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Adapting to Change: Becoming a Learning Organization as a Relief and Development Agency

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2 Author(s)
Smith, S. ; LIFE Center, Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA ; Young, A.

Disaster areas and developing economies put great demands on relief and development personnel to adapt efficiently to fast-changing conditions. We draw on experiences at Mercy Corps and the literature on learning organizations, adaptive expertise, and communities of practice to identify five systemic tensions that need to be balanced when designing effective learning solutions: (1) employees' desire to learn versus the pressures of the job, (2) investing in strategic learning initiatives versus the need to keep organizational operating costs low, (3) formal learning versus informal learning, (4) maintaining flexibility within a local context versus organization-wide standards that create efficiency and accountability, and (5) people versus technology. We offer examples of possible solutions to the individual and organizational learning challenge in relief and development organizations.

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Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:52 ,  Issue: 4 )