Government as learnaucracy? Learning and performance in a Canadian public sector organization

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Johnston, Carly
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Few empirical studies have examined the relationship between learning organization dimensions and public sector performance. While others have argued that public organizations are important contexts to for the study of organizational learning, learning in public sector and government organizations has not been given the empirical attention that private sector learning has. The goal of this study is to assess to what degree a government bureaucracy can learn and to examine whether a relationship exists between learning (predictor variables) and performance (criterion variables) in a government organization. To evaluate this, the government department of Family Services and Consumer Affairs within the province of Manitoba, Canada was used as a case study. All non-political staff in the Department were invited to complete an online version of an adapted version of the Dimensions of the Learning Organization Questionnaire (DLOQ). The current study addresses several gaps in the literature. This study found that a relationship indeed exists between organizational learning and performance in a Canadian public sector context. Second, a fourth variable of performance (goal performance) was added to assess the relationship between organizational learning and an organization’s stated goals. Dimensions of the learning organization were found to be predictive of goal performance. Third and finally, this study offers recommendations on if and how a public sector organization can move from a bureaucracy, with its hierarchical authority and rules and order, to a learnaucracy, based on individual empowerment and a culture of reflexivity.
learning organization, organizational learning, government, Manitoba, public sector, organizational performance, management