32 SES 02, Organizational Learning: A central topic of Organizational Education
Organizations are highly dynamic systems which are permanently varying. Therefore it is not the usual intention of organizational self-description to leave everything as it has been before. The creation of a promising future by contrasting the deficient present is part of the organization’s daily business. In some special cases the anticipated future is labelled as reform. The in any case ongoing variances are so brought in a special form of language. By using the term of reform, it appears to be obvious, that things need to be decided from now on, to direct the future into a better one. On the contrary it seems already less clear, in what special way the variances are qualified as reform. Actually there are numerous of terms like change, evolution, process or learning. They all address organizational variances in a certain way. Their relation to each other meanwhile seems unclear and the central question is therefore, if the meaning of reform as a term can be sharply outlined.
The Bologna Process presents a good example for empirical research because conception, process and evaluation are openly discussed in public, which seems to be rather unusual for commercial companies. As a favored recipient of reform plans universities cannot be distinguished from other organizations. The impulses und regularities of reform are regularly external impulses on behalf of politics while the concrete transforming of structure is registered and commented by the concerned scientists. In this particularly case universities are organizations in a special way, because all aspects of reforming are publicly discussed and oftentimes with a scientific approach.
An explicit view on the semantical core terms of the reform like commensurability of degrees or transparency of study structure reveals, that their vague wording systematically prevents a precise evaluation. Despite the in Germany at the very beginning of the reform highly and controversially discussed supplementary targets, such as ‘reduction of study duration’ and ‘delve of dropouts’, it seems very surprising that they are currently irrelevant.
The assumption of this lecture identifies this fact, that the present discussion of reforming success is no longer discussed with the initially outpointed targets, as a special indicator for reforms. Any reform is concepted in a way that the systemical evaluation of the primary targets and criteria can be avoided. The circumstances of possible success criteria appear in an already proceeded future, so that a final comparison of ‘before and after’ the reform is not presenting relevant conclusions. The more distinctive the impression of an alteration is, the less detailed knowledge is gained by using prior criteria. A failure of the reform is therefore excluded.
Subsequent criticism based on criteria of the past present regularly hits an empty target. In reality reform projects occur as the conscious planning of a dynamic which withstand itself from planning.
However, reforms may not be considered as ineffective. It is the communication of reform plans, which already pre-structures the expectations of significant change, so that the meaning of prior criteria of evaluation seems to be irrelevant after the reform. In case of success the subsequent evaluation of reforms is just witless. It is precisely for this reason that evaluable processes of change, which are using time stable criteria like measurement arrangements for learning or business management ratios are not reforms. An in this regard empirical well-founded sensitization for the difference between semantical forms of organizational und personal processes of alteration is helpful and important for the organizational education. A clear understanding of the semantic in use is part of a successful initiation and educational guidance of organizational change.
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