Applicability of the Learning Organization Concept to the Ministry of Health: Managers' Perspectives

Arwa Abdel Wahab Shalabi
اروى عبد الوهاب زكري شلبي
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Al-Quds University
Universally, organizations facing uncertain, changing, or ambiguous contexts need to be able to learn in an efficient and effective manner. In the absence of learning, organizations and individuals simply repeat old practices and improvements are either fortuitous or short-lived. In line with the recently developed learning organization concepts (LO), organizations are increasingly required to be dynamic learning systems in order to develop and thrive. The overall aim of this study is to ascertain the applicability of the LO concepts to the MOH institutions in Gaza from the managers' perspectives. The design of this study is a quantitative, descriptive, analytical cross-sectional one. Selfadministered standardized questionnaire (Dimensions of the Learning Organization Questionnaire) was completed by 662 managers with a response rate of 74.9%. The overall reliability coefficient was high (0.820). The study indicated the total revealed mean of the five LO disciplines was 5.7 (out of 10) with the highest mean for systems thinking discipline (6.1) and lowest mean for the personal mastery discipline. In addition, the dimensions of the LO revealed a total mean of 5.2 out of 10; with the individual learning being the highest (5.3) and the team learning and organizational learning being the lowest (5.1). The extracted findings reflect weak performance of the MOH as a LO from the perspectives of its managers. In other words, the MOH is not yet considered as a LO implying that it is neither facilitating the learning of its members nor transforming itself as needed. The study concluded statistically significant variations in perceptions among the subjects where the PHC managers had elicited higher mean scores than their counterparts in hospitals (P value 0.05). Also, positive differences were revealed between the managerial positions and the elicited mean scores (P value 0.0001). Congruently, managers who were working in the field of finance and administration had higher mean scores than others who work in technical arenas (P value 0.001). Moreover, male managers elicited higher mean scores than their female counterparts (P value 0.005). Regarding the organizational related variables, the availability of organizational strategies, strategic plan for training, follow up after training and the availability of clear structures were associated with higher means scores with statistically significant differences. The dominant organizational learning style was "Habits Style" which is characterized by repetitive processes and blind automaton. The study provided a framework for strengthening the MOH to become a LO that transforms and develops itself. Special attention should be paid to support sharing knowledge and team learning. A basic, yet essential, approach includes promoting issues pertaining to strategic management.