Learning in Organizational Behaviour

Learning

A Definition of Learning

According to Stephen Robbins, learning may be defined as any relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of experience. Our definition is concerned with behavior. As Behavior is a collection of related activities, so change in behavior results into the change in activities which are responsible for the concerned change behavior. The present definition of learning has several components that deserve clarification.

Learning Involves Change

Change may be good or bad from an organizational point of view. People can learn unfavorable behaviors to hold prejudices or.to restrict their output, for example as well as favorable behaviors.

The Change must be Relatively Permanent

Temporary changes may be only reflexive and fail to represent any learning. Therefore, the Requirement that learning must be relatively permanent rules out behavioral changes caused by fatigue Or temporary adaptations.

Learning Involves Change in Behavior

Learning takes place when there is a change in actions. we must depend on observation to see how much learning has occurred. For example, if a word processing operator who keys boarded 70 words a minute before taking a new training course can now keyboard 85 words in a minute, we can infer that learning has occurred.
Most people associate learning with formal education and with school in particular. While this association is quite logical, we should also note the pervasive extent to which learning also occurs in organizations. From a simple orientation perspective, for example, newcomers to organizations learn when to come to work, how to dress, whom to ask for assistance, how to apply for annual leave, when to expect a paycheck, how to file an insurance claim, and so forth. From the performance perspective, employees learn how to do their jobs more effectively, what is expected of them in the way of performance outcomes, and what it takes to get rewarded. From a social perspective, employees learn how to get along with colleagues, which behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable, the norms of the group, and so on. From a political perspective, employees learn how to get along with their bosses, whom to avoid , whom to trust, and so forth. And from a career perspective, employees learn how to get ahead , how to get promotions, which job assignments to seek and which to avoid, and the like. Clearly, then , much of organizational life and the behavior of individuals within organizations are influenced by learning and learning processes.Learning in Organizations

A Little History and a Comparison

The example we used here is from the first studies on classical conditioning as described by Ivan Pavlov, the famous Russian physiologist. Pavlov discovered these important relationships around the turn of the century in his work with dogs (really). He created the first learning theory which precedes the learning theory most teachers know quite well, reinforcement theory. We will look at reinforcement theory in a separate chapter, but for now, I do want to make a point.
The point is this: Classical conditioning says nothing about rewards and punishments which are key terms in reinforcement theory. Consider our basic example,
Unconditioned Stimulus —> Unconditioned Response
There is nothing in here about rewards or punishments, no terminology like that, not even an implication like that. Classical conditioning is built on creating relationships by association over trials. Some people confuse Classical Conditioning with Reinforcement Theory. To keep them separated just look for the presence of rewards and punishments.

Theories Of Learning

  • Classical Conditioning,
  • Operant Conditioning, And
  • Social Learning,
To understand the contemporary thinking of learning, we first need to be aware of its historical roots. Classical conditioning is a simple form of learning in which conditioned response is linked with an unconditioned stimulus.What do you do when you hear a bell ring?

Traditional View: Classical Conditioning

A teacher told this story on himself. When most teachers hear a bell one of the first things they do is walk out into the hallway to be a monitor just to keep a watchful eye on the students. Right? Well, this guy had acquired such a habit that when he was at home and the doorbell rang he‘d walk into a nearby hallway and ―monitor‖ his family. For him, it was simply such a strong habit that he‘d produce the right behavior (going into the hall to monitor) at the wrong place (his own home).
In this section, we will look at Classical Conditioning, perhaps the oldest model of change that is there. It has several interesting applications to the classroom, ones you may not have thought about. Let‘s look at the components of this model.

Components of Classical Conditioning

  • A Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov, conducted this experiment. A simple surgical procedure allowed Pavlov to measure accurately the amount of saliva secreted by a dog.
  • When Pavlov presented the dog with a piece of meat, the dog exhibited a noticeable increase in salivation.
  • When Pavlov withheld the presentation of meat and merely rang a bell, the dog did not salivate.
  • Then Pavlov proceeded to link the meat and the ringing of the bell. After repeatedly hearing the bell before getting the food, the dog began to salivate as soon as the bell rang.

Learning in Organizations

Most people associate learning with formal education and with school in particular. While this association is quite logical, we should also note the pervasive extent to which learning also occurs in organizations. From a simple orientation perspective, for example, newcomers to organizations learn when to come to work, how to dress, whom to ask for assistance, how to apply for annual leave, when to expect a paycheck, how to file an insurance claim, and so forth. From a performance perspective, employees learn how to do their jobs more effectively, what is expected of them in the way of performance outcomes, and what it takes to get rewarded. From a social perspective, employees learn how to get along with colleagues, which behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable, the norms of the group, and so on. From a political perspective, employees learn how to get along with their bosses, whom to avoid , whom to trust, and so forth. And from a career perspective, employees learn how to get ahead , how to get promotions, which job assignments to seek and which to avoid, and the like. Clearly, then , much of organizational life and the behavior of individuals within organizations are influenced by learning and learning processes.

Learning