250021 Characteristics of organizational learning events in local health departments: A case study

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 9:10 AM

Mary Elise Papke, MPH , UIC SPH, Milwaukee, WI
Little research has been done in local health departments (LHDs) to demonstrate how organizational learning processes might affect organizational capacity and performance. Research has considered the LHD as a learning organization, but given the complexity of organizational learning as a phenomenon, it would be helpful to know more about the characteristics of learning events in LHDs. A deeper understanding about factors related to leadership, culture, and structure or organizational learning mechanisms that affect organizational learning may yield new insights for management practices and enhance quality improvement and accreditation activities. A qualitative approach facilitates detailed descriptions of learning events in LHDs and may complement other research on LHD organizational capacity. The purpose of this presentation is to share findings from a case study of organizational learning in a Wisconsin LHD. Data collection consisted of interviews in two time periods to validate insights, two staff meeting observations, and document review. Preliminary findings suggest that learning events usually have an external trigger. Knowing more about the nature of these events may help LHDs develop responses to future events. While leadership may not always be important in a given learning event, having a culture where a team approach is valued and using structures or organizational learning mechanisms, social networks in program areas, for interpreting and acting on information may enhance learning. A conceptual model of organizational learning will be presented. This model may provide a bridge from organizational learning theory to practice for some LHDs interested in workforce and leadership development.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe 3 characteristics of a learning event in a local health department. 2. Analyze 2 findings from the case study for relevance in your practice context. 3. Identify 2 recommendations that may have implications for public health practice in local health departments.

Keywords: Management, Public Health Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am conducting this research in accordance with the IRB policies and procedures of the University of Illinois at Chicago and am working with my DrPH Dissertation Committee.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.