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A study of accountability in two organisational learning frameworks: why accountability for learning is critical

A study of accountability in two organisational learning frameworks: why accountability for learning is critical
A study of accountability in two organisational learning frameworks: why accountability for learning is critical
In this paper we examine the complex relationship between accountability and organizational learning through a case study with the UK Royal Air Force (RAF). Accountability is a complex and contradictory construct that has both positive and negative implications for organizational learning. Within the same organization we observed positive effects of accountability in one organizational learning system, and negative effects of accountability in another. This case study adds to the organizational learning and accountability literatures, showing that accountability to hierarchy, rather than preventing learning, can actually promote effective learning, making it more likely that people will report problems quickly and accurately and take follow-up action. This only applies if the learning objectives align with the broader accountability framework, and if reporting on failures will enhance individual reputation. If not, then people will tend to avoid reporting negative events in order to avoid punishment and reputation damage. Accountability to hierarchy is only negative if it conflicts with the learning objectives.
1740-4754
319-332
Baxter, David
a7d6ba3f-370f-493d-9202-218d5e6dfc54
Colledge, Thomas
b8f95e70-52b6-4393-8169-6e187e8a23dd
Turner, Neil
03e7f778-a75d-4afe-afe3-279f483b2aa8
Baxter, David
a7d6ba3f-370f-493d-9202-218d5e6dfc54
Colledge, Thomas
b8f95e70-52b6-4393-8169-6e187e8a23dd
Turner, Neil
03e7f778-a75d-4afe-afe3-279f483b2aa8

Baxter, David, Colledge, Thomas and Turner, Neil (2017) A study of accountability in two organisational learning frameworks: why accountability for learning is critical. European Management Review, 14 (3), 319-332. (doi:10.1111/emre.12112).

Record type: Article

Abstract

In this paper we examine the complex relationship between accountability and organizational learning through a case study with the UK Royal Air Force (RAF). Accountability is a complex and contradictory construct that has both positive and negative implications for organizational learning. Within the same organization we observed positive effects of accountability in one organizational learning system, and negative effects of accountability in another. This case study adds to the organizational learning and accountability literatures, showing that accountability to hierarchy, rather than preventing learning, can actually promote effective learning, making it more likely that people will report problems quickly and accurately and take follow-up action. This only applies if the learning objectives align with the broader accountability framework, and if reporting on failures will enhance individual reputation. If not, then people will tend to avoid reporting negative events in order to avoid punishment and reputation damage. Accountability to hierarchy is only negative if it conflicts with the learning objectives.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 15 December 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 16 March 2017
Published date: 16 March 2017
Organisations: Southampton Business School

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 404133
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/404133
ISSN: 1740-4754
PURE UUID: 4b0c6caf-e033-4dfd-b278-7ca8f3230d17
ORCID for David Baxter: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1983-7786

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 22 Dec 2016 15:42
Last modified: 17 Dec 2019 06:29

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