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Learning to change, changing to learn : district conditions for organizational learning


A mixed method study was performed to investigate the district and school conditions that cultivate organizational learning, and how that influences the district's response to a 21st Century change initiative. The interdisciplinary approach of the study explored the relationship between potential conditions for sustainable change by drawing on three bodies of literature: districts, organizational learning, and transformational leadership. A literature review of the theoretical foundations, and past research within each field, is provided. The mixed method study included a quantitative phase in which data was collected from an Organizational Learning Conditions survey, and an extant data source. A qualitative phase explored findings obtained through semi-structured private interviews of district and school leaders, teachers, and union members. Document and archival analysis provided additional data for the qualitative phase. The mixed method research design was intended to obtain a deep understanding of what is happening in the district of study with regard to the presence of the conditions for organizational learning, and how those conditions enabled or constrained the adoption of a 21st Century literacy change initiative. Data clearly revealed the presence of four conditions for organizational learning: (a) Collaborative and Harmonious Culture, (b) Congruence of District Mission & Vision with Practices and Beliefs, (c) Leadership, and (d) Policies and Resources for Promoting Learning. A fifth condition, Organizational Communication, emerged through the content analysis of stakeholder interviews and archival data. The district stakeholder's response to a 21st Century change initiative was primarily enabled by the influence of the organizational learning conditions. However, Culture was found to both enable and constrain the stakeholder response. The implications of this study suggest that districts considering the implementation of a 21st Century literacy initiative first inventory the existing conditions and available resources; then build or leverage the communication channels to enlist stakeholder participation in the design and scaffolding of the initiative; and finally, the implementation action should be enacted with shared stakeholder purpose and responsibility

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