Date of Award

Summer 1993

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Management & Systems Engineering


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Committee Director

Barry Clemson

Committee Member

Frederick Steier

Committee Member

Laurence P. Richards

Committee Member

Thomas Socha


This research investigated the development of Organizational Learning Process (OLP) through the application of a computer-based strategy in an organizational setting. OLP is developed from the organizational learning literature as an integration of similar concepts of organizational processes of inquiry essential to organizational learning. These concepts included: organizational dialectic (Argyris and Schon 1978), surfacing and testing mental models (Senge 1990a,1990b), and interpretation process (Daft and Weick 1984). A qualitative research methodology was developed within a participatory action research framework (Whyte 1989). A six phase research project, designed as a computer-based strategy to generate OLP, was applied in an organizational setting.

The research project was conducted in a major healthcare system in the southeastern United States and involved 17 senior executives. The participants represented diverse units, services, and geographic locations within the health system. The participants were separated into two groups and the project was completed over a 6 month period. For Phase I the context for the research project was established. In Phase II, individual interviews, based on Schein's (1985) organizational culture concept of internal integration, were conducted. Interview results were used to construct an organizational profile and computer-based exercise for each group. For Phase III, participants anonymously assessed the organizational profile during the first of two computer-based exercises. During Phase IV, participants individually examined group assessments during the second computer-based exercise. In Phase V, participants engaged in a group discussion and joint examination of profile assessments. Finally, in Phase VI group interviews were conducted to assess the research project.

Data was collected through: (1) individual interviews, conducted in phases II-IV and VI, (2) organizational profile assessment results from the Phase III and IV computer exercises, and (3) the Phase VI group interviews. Qualitative data analyses were performed on interview data (Strauss and Corbin 1990; Patton 1980) at the individual, organizational, and strategy levels. Categories defining the results of the strategy deployment were subsequently developed.

The research findings demonstrated the strategy capability to: (1) generate OLP at the individual level, reducing exposure to organizational defenses, (2) generate OLP at the organizational level, and (3) generate participatory strategy redesign guidance. In addition, the research generated an exploratory framework for OLP generated by the strategy. Research implications are also developed for the local organization, the organizational learning phenomenon, and the management of organizations. Directions for further research are also outlined.