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Internal and External Influences on Organizations and Their Need for Change

Organizational learning is, partly, the knowledge gained from experience. The process of knowledge derives from the process of action or doing. Because Organizational learning is a process that encompasses the entire organization, it works to improve the capacity to recognize, understand, and react to organizational change -whether it is internal or external.

Considering organizational learning pertains to the entire organization, and how it functions, learns, and reacts to change, it can be viewed as a part of systems thinking.

Systems thinking is all the interconnecting parts of an organization and how they combine to form the whole. It is a process designed to look at the entire picture and how each element affects one another. Systems thinking, however, is not just a process or something done. It is a state of critical thinking about interrelated patterns to facilitate knowledge within the organizational learning structure to facilitate learning organization into the culture.

The Life Cycle Institute has an adage that befits the concept of systems thinking and organizational learning, “Learning is change. Change is learning.” (Life Cycle Institute, n.d.).

Daniel H. Kim and Peter M. Senge discuss the concept of systems thinking in practice. Kim and Senge posit that “organizations are in extraordinary need of newer learning capacities to flourish in a constantly evolving world. However, managers’ consideration is normally centered around tending to their most significant issues. When these issues are effectively resolved, there is no assurance that new capacities have been created to address comparable issues in the future.” (Kim, 1994).

Considering systems thinking requires communication and critical thinking skills to make sense of data, patterns, experience, or knowledge gained, and decision-making also plays an integral part in it.

According to Jamshid Gharajedaghi, “the decision-making process is reflected in a method of planning, learning, and control system. Planning has two parts, reactive and proactive.  Reactive planning focuses on recognizing insufficiencies and structuring projects or procedures to abolish them. It manages portions of an organization, freely of one another. Proactive planning comprises two significant parts, prediction, and preparation. The goal is to forecast the future and then set up the organization as best as can be done.”  (Gharajedaghi, 2011).

Decision-making is mostly tied to systems thinking in that it gives the leaders or managers the chance to address insufficiencies within the entire organizational framework based on the data they have. Decision-making can help in the organizational change process by being more aware of the internal and external factors involved.

Paul Victor and Anton Frankeiss posit there are five dimensions of organizational change. Victor and Franckeiss state, “The five dimensions are, “Direct, describe, define, deliver, and develop. Direct is associated with the direction the organization wants to go. Describe pertains to communicating the direction into a strategy or plan. Define is an important step as it outlines the implementation of the described strategies into processes, policies, or procedures. Deliver is the action of actively carrying out the strategies defined in the previous three steps of the dimensions. Develop is the continual analysis and observation of the strategies implemented.” (Victor, 2002).

However, Peter Senge puts forth that there are dimensions to organizational learning that are implemented within a learning organization. Senge (2001) identifies these dimensions as “systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building shared vision, and team learning.” (Senge, 2001).

With the learning organization, the culture inside the business is continuously learning and developing their skills so that when they need to evolve, they can implement the same concepts and negotiate each task with the same mindset because of the culture of learning ingrained into the organization.

To have a culture that can evolve together, you need to change the people inside of your business to become a learning organization so that they can develop the same cultural mindset. Any new or subsequent employees brought on board will also have to be integrated and taught the culture. Any new employees must have their previously conceived notions broken down to learn better and embrace the learning organization methods.

Being able to transform into a learning organization can be beneficial when there are times when finding employees with the skills or experience to fill a role or position is ambiguous. It can be cost-effective to invest in the growth and development of employees already within the organization. Transforming or developing into a learning organizational culture can be considered an investment in the future of the organization, and the employees can be more invested in it due to their personal growth and input.

On the other hand, James Rocco DellaNeve (2007) posits that there is a relationship between organizational learning and organizational change, and these can be influenced by adult learning. DellaNeve states, “the core of the andragogy in practice model encompasses the adult’s self-concept, previous experience, readiness to learn, orientation to learning, motivation to learn, individual or situational differences, and goals or purposes of learning.” (DellaNeve, 207).

Considering the workforce is encompassed by adults, having a model that is designed to implement their learning methods, styles, skill sets, goals, motivations, and so on can help in the customization of the changes desired. The enriched experiences of the adult workforce can help an organization to learn other skill sets that can benefit the company. Being able to consider all aspects of the adult worker or adult learning can assist in being better informed to make decisions on which changes to make and how.

In an organization that invests in adult learning, development, collaboration, experience, knowledge sharing, and motivation through the andragogy in practice method there can be competitive advantages gained due to the ability to become more innovative. Often adults learn by making mistakes, and this helps them gain experience needed to improve. Applying the ability to allow room for errors can go a long way in expanding creativity due to the need to refine the critical problem areas and change them; this allows for critical thinking to also play a role in the process of learning and change.

Change is a continuous process, and sometimes a change agent or consultant needs to be brought on board to help look at the issues, introduce a change action plan, and implement these planned changes. These change agents can be external or internal, and they must look at data, information, and other factors that need to be taken into consideration before they make a decision. Despite the best intentions and well-informed decisions and learning efforts, some factors can influence change, especially with the constant changes in the world, and these factors can be external and internal.

Some external factors that can influence change are customers, mergers or acquisitions, competitors, technology, new or changed regulations, taxes, natural disasters, economy, international issues, and other factors.

Some internal factors that can influence change are shareholders, organizational culture, resources or lack of, employees, brand image, resistance to change, communication, structure, and more.

The ways that external factors can influence change are:

Customers can affect change due to aspects of the economy, social environment, or their personal lives that influence their consumer habits. Customers can also influence change if they are not happy with the services, products, or the organization itself. Customer demand is also a factor that can affect change and these demands could pertain to price, quality, access to products or services, and more.

Mergers or acquisitions can influence change due to the changes in management, system structure, policies, values, culture, differing management theories or methods, and more.

Competitors can influence change with products, prices, barriers to entry, directly or indirectly, marketing, customer service or retention, brand, etc.

Technology can influence change by affecting efficiency, production, elimination of a function or a process, broader reach, creation of new products, collect and analyze data, monitoring patterns, and so on.

New or changed regulations can influence change by needing to change policies or procedures to ensure compliance is still met, training may need to be performed, failure to follow can acquire penalties or legal repercussions, changes to sales taxes, changes to tariffs or trade policies, changes to federal tax policies or corporate taxes, adjustments to wages or medical benefits requirements, foreign policies, and more.

Natural disasters can influence change because they can cause issues in the supply chain, raw materials can be affected or short, communication can be hindered, loss of power can shut down technology, building damage or loss, loss of employees, loss of customers, loss of profits, and so on.

The economy can influence change by changes to unemployment rates, interest rates, inflation affecting organizational costs, supply and demand, monetary policies, recessions, income rates, economic development, and more.

International issues can influence change due to the political stability or instability of other countries, changes to import or export policies, regulations, or tariffs, raw materials or goods available due to disasters or foreign economy, currency exchange rates, barriers to trade, cultural factors of customers, varying cultural dimensions between countries, communication, and other factors.

The ways that internal factors can influence change are:

Shareholders can affect change by selling their stock or voting a director out of a job, investments, expansions, cost of equity, cost of capital in dividends paid, high debt is a high risk, and loss of shareholders may happen, etc.

Organizational culture can influence change, but the approach will be different depending on the culture and can lead to the success or failure of the change efforts. Organizational culture can also affect change based on flexibility or adaptability of the people, philosophy of the people, competency, behavior, resistance, teamwork, organizational support, leadership or management style, communication, and more.

Resources or lack of can influence change if the organization has enough resources to carry out the change or lack of resources can hinder the change. If an organization does not have the budget available to carry out the implementation of a new change effort, then failure can occur. If there is a lack of leaders that can perform the required tasks, then it can be difficult. There will need to be time allotted for the development of skills or training for the changes made, resources may need to be reallocated, or additional funding may need to be sought out.

Employees can influence change by resistance, turnover rates, satisfaction, retention, whether there is trust or distrust felt, camaraderie or lack thereof, stress, resilience, fear, rate of absorption to training or learning new changes, and so on.

Brand image can influence change in a positive or negative manner. If negative actions are associated with the organization, then its brand image can be damaged. Change may need to be made to rectify this. Sometimes a logo needs to be changed, and this can affect consumers. The brand image is an essential part of internal aspects because the employees influence the brand, vision, and culture associated with the brand and brand strategy. Keep in mind that brand image can also be changed externally due to competitors (both direct and indirect). They can use their own brand image and brand strategies to manipulate your brand image and associate it with negativity, which can benefit your competitors. They may also put focus on a practice that negatively impacts your brand.

Communication is a facilitator of change and can have a positive or negative effect. If communication is not concise, clear, or practical, then change efforts will be difficult. Communication is a crucial aspect of change, and if it is ineffective it can signify that change needs to be made to the communication being done within the organization. If communication is substandard then any other project or change will suffer and can influence the time it takes to complete the current project or change effort or any projects in the future. Therefore, communication is one of the top ten problems within organizations that need to be addressed. Considering different people learn or absorb information in varying ways, it is essential to have different methods of communication such as auditory, visual, hands-on, groups, bulletin boards, writing, involvement, and more. It is also essential to understand how people identify and perceive information so that you can accurately relay the information as needed to accomplish what changes are being implemented. A person should be able to comprehend information in the way they can understand it so that their portion of the change methods can be adequately carried out.

Business structure can influence change because it is tied to the culture, behavior, rituals, expected or known tasks or responsibilities, policies, procedures, communication, corporate strategy, centralized, decentralized, and so on. If any part of the structure is weak it can cause collapse. Change may be necessary to strengthen these weak points.

In conclusion, with the constant evolution of internal and external influences on organizations and their need for change, organizational learning, and the learning organization have moved forward to take a high level of importance. Organizational learning will need to be fully integrated inside of a workplace so that everyone affiliated with the organization can evolve simultaneously as changes are required.  Being able to implement organizational learning in tandem with a learning organization while considering the knowledge and experience of the adult employees, a company can achieve a competitive advantage by being more innovative and more capable of change management methods.



Theme (Senge, 2001) (DellaNeve, 2007)
Definition of Organizational Learning  More focused on a learning organization where people collectively learn and enhance their capabilities. More focused on adult learning and andragogy in practice model for organizational learning.
Principle of Organizational Learning Facilitates an organizational culture of learning in order to apply systems thinking, organizational learning, and change. Adult learners need to be involved, have experience which can help in learning, relevance to their job or personal life is important, and needs to be problem-focused rather than content-focused.
Rationale Being able to be flexible in change and learning at all levels will help organizations excel. Focusing more on the learning rather than the overall goal can help knowledge and exchange of it on an individual, group, and organizational level.
Skills/Processes Required Systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building a shared vision, and team learning. Sense of self/self-actualization, experience, independent research or exploration, relevance to job, preparation, and motivation.




1 Comment

  1. דירות דיסקרטיות בבת ים on July 20, 2022 at 4:15 pm

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