Organisational Learning and Knowledge Management at General Electric - Essay Example

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In the paper “Organisational Learning and Knowledge Management at General Electric” the author analyses an organization’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action, which is the ultimate competitive advantage of the company…
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Download file to see previous pages This is much higher than the industry average, due largely to the knowledge management systems in place at this multi-national enterprise. General Electric is a top-down, centralized management hierarchy with divisional management reporting to executive leadership at company headquarters, led by Chairman Jeffrey Immelt. In order to establish appropriate cost control and generalized leadership controls, the company requires this centralized organizational structure due to the interdependence between all divisions and the high volume of employees at GE. The centralized nature of General Electric somewhat confounds the traditionalist viewpoint of knowledge management systems, as it is generally recognised that in order to effectively manage knowledge, employees must be more interactive in decision-making through autonomous learning and job role functioning (Davenport, Jarvenpaa, and Beers, 1996; Swan, Scarbrough and Robertson, 2002). The centralized structure of General Electric is what prompted analysis of this particular business case as it defies the argument that a decentralized structure ensures more efficient knowledge management processes. In order to manage knowledge and promote organizational learning, GE relies on technology, experiential learning processes, the SECI model promoted by Nonaka, and bounded rationality as key approaches to facilitate KM practices. GE is governed by leadership that understands the complexities of multi-national business operations. Offers Jack Welch, previous CEO of GE, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” (Seymour 2008: 28). Time constraints, the practical market environment and its unpredictability in certain markets, and the differing cultural dimensions of diverse employee populations create difficulty in creating concrete and time-sensitive decisions without recognizing the boundaries associated with rational decision-making. Thus, GE’s approach to knowledge management is based on practicality rather than ideology which drives aspects of its cultural development focus and short-term business objective planning. This report highlights the knowledge management and learning practices at GE with a focus on the systems in place to promote such activities. GE cultures, systems, structure, and practices General Electric follows the SECI model which focuses on the relationship between socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization. Despite its centralized hierarchy, General Electric prides itself on its commitment to building positive interpersonal relationships between management and employees, building a culture of innovation, cooperation, team work, and loyalty. Thus, against the SECI model, GE is most closely focused on socialization in order to effectively manage knowledge and promote organizational learning. The knowledge that resides within GE is largely tacit, this being the knowledge that is largely intangible and attached closely to individual implicit expertise (Dinur 2011). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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