What is Learning in Organisational Behaviour?
Meaning of Learning in Organisational Behaviour: – Learning is a process by which new behaviors are acquired. It is generally agreed that learning involves changes in behavior, practicing new behaviors and establishing permanency in the change. Learning is any permanent change in behavior of a person that occurs as result of experience. Learning has taken place if an individual behaves, reacts, respondents as a result of experience in a manner different from the way he formerly behaved. Since learning changes the behaviour of person, it comes to have a great importance in organisational behaviour.
If we compare the simple, crude ways of feeling and behaving in a child to the complex ways of behaving in an adult, his skills, habits, thoughts, feelings and so on- we will know what difference learning has made in the individual.
Learning can be defined as a permanent change in behaviour due to direct and indirect experience. It means change in behaviour, attitude, practice and experience due to education and training. This is accomplished by the acquisition of knowledge and skills, which are relatively permanent.
There are two primary elements to the meaning of learning in Organisational Behaviour: –
- The change must be relatively permanent: this means that our behaviour after “learning” must be better or worse than our behaviour before this learning experience. This comes after some kind of experience and practise. For example, you learn to drive a car or use a computer.
- This learning is caused by biological maturation. For example, we do not learn to eat or drink, it is a natural biological phenomenon.
Nature of Learning in Organisational Behaviour
The nature of learning in Organisational Behaviour means the distinctive features of learning. Learning involves change; tt may or may not guarantee improvement. It should be permanent in nature, i.e., learning is lifelong. Learning involves a change in behavior, though this change is not necessarily an improvement over previous behavior. It has the connotation of improved, but bad habits, prejudices, stereotypes and work restrictions are also learned.
The behavioral change must be based on some form of practice or experience. Thus, any behavioral change because of physical maturation is not learning. The practice or experience must be reinforced in order for learning to occur. If reinforcement does not accompany the practice or experience, the behavior will disappear.
Change in behaviour is the result of experience, practice and training. Learning is reflected through behaviour.
Definitions of Learning by Different Authors
- Stephen P. Robbins: – Learning is any relatively permanent change in behaviour that occurs as a result of experience.
- Munn N.L.: – Learning is the process of having one’s behaviour modified, more or less permanently, by what he does and the consequences of his action, or by what he observes.
- Steers and Porter: – Learning can be defined as relatively permanent change in behaviour potentially that results from reinforced practice or experience.
What are the factors affecting learning in organisational behaviour?
Learning is based on a few key factors that decide what changes will happen due to this experience. The major elements or major factors influencing learning are motivation, practice, environment and mental group.
Coming back to these factors, let us have a look at these factors: –
- Motivation: – The encouragement, support that is given to complete a task, is known as motivation to achieve the goal. This is a very important aspect of learning as it gives us positive energy to complete the task. Example – The coach motivates the players to win the match.
- Practice: – We all know that “practice makes us perfect”. To be a perfectionist or at least complete the task, it is very important to practice what we have learned. Example – We can become a programmer only if we execute the codes we have written.
- Environment: – We learn from our surroundings; we learn from the people around us. They are of two types of environments – Internal and External. Example – A child when at home learns from the family which is an internal environment, but when he is sent to school it is an external environment.
- Mental Group: – This describes our thinking by the group of people we have chosen to hang out with. In simple words, we make a group of people with whom we connect. This may be for a social cause where people with similar mindsets work in the same direction. Example – group of readers, travellers etc.
What are the types of learning?
Learning is of the following types: –
- Skill Learning: – The child acquires skills from birth. His body parts learn to handle things. He moves his legs and starts crawling. In the source of time, he learns other motor skills, such as walking, speaking, drawing, writing, reading, playing music, cycling and swimming, etc.
- Perceptual Learning: – The child receives sensation through his senses, and he gives meaning to each sensation. The initial sensations of the baby do not differentiate to such an extent that he is unable to distinguish between one object and another. Over time, he recognizes specific objects, and perceives them separately.
- Conceptual Learning: – Just as concrete thinking leads to abstract thinking; conceptual learning is followed by conceptual learning. A concept is a general idea, universal in character. A child sees a particular cow, and forms some idea of a cow with certain characteristics. The idea here is based on a particular cow. This is a special notion but when the child sees a number of cows with some common characteristics, he discovers some common qualities in all the cows, and on the basis of these he forms the concept of ‘cow’. It is based on the assumption that has been generalised.
- Associative learning: – Associative learning helps conceptual learning to gather a wealth of knowledge. New concepts are tagged as knowledge through association with previous concepts and as such.
- Appreciation Learning: – Whereas conceptual learning is on the affective side. A child, from the very beginning, makes use of his innate quality of aesthetic sensitivity, and acquires chromatic concepts from appreciation.
- Attitudinal Learning: – Attitudes are generalized dispositions to certain concepts, things, persons, or activities. A child develops a sense of affection towards his mother, a sense of respect for the teacher and an attitude of belonging towards the family. His attitude towards the game is the most favourable. All this he gradually learns and adopts.
Other types of Learnings
- Motor Learning: – Most of our activities in our daily life refer to motor activities. One has to learn them to maintain their regular life, for example walking, running, skating, driving, climbing etc. All of these activities involve muscular coordination.
- Oral Learning: – This type of learning involves the language we speak, the communication tools we use. Signs, pictures, symbols, words, figures, sounds etc. are the tools used in such activities. We use words for communication.
- Concept learning: – It is a form of learning that requires higher order mental processes like thinking, reasoning, intelligence etc. We learn different concepts from childhood. For example, when we look at a dog and attach the word ‘dog’, we learn that the word dog refers to a particular animal. Concept learning involves two processes, viz. Abstraction and Generalization. This learning is very useful in recognizing, identifying things.
- Discrimination Learning: – Learning to differentiate between stimuli and showing appropriate responses to these stimuli is called discrimination learning. For example, sound horns of various vehicles like buses, cars, ambulances, etc.
- Learning of Principles: – Individuals learn certain principles related to science, maths, grammar, etc. to manage their work effectively. These principles always reflect the relationship between two or more concepts. Example: formula, law, union, correlation, etc.
- Problem Solving: – It is a higher order learning process. This learning requires the use of cognitive abilities – such as thinking, reasoning, observation, imagination, generalization, etc. It is very useful to overcome the difficult problems faced by the people.
- Learning Attitude: – Attitude is a tendency that determines and guides our behaviour. We develop different perspectives about people, things and everything we know right from our childhood. Our behaviour can be positive or negative depending on our attitude. Example: Attitude of nurse towards her profession, patients etc.
Learning Theories In Organizational Behaviour
Learning can be understood clearly with the help of certain principles which will explain our behaviour. Some notable theories are: –
- Classical Conditioning Theory: – Classical conditioning is a type of conditioning in which a person reacts to certain stimuli that would not normally produce a response. Classical conditioning is acquiring a new response (the conditioned response) to a previously neutral stimulus (the conditioned stimulus) that reliably signals the arrival of an unconditioned stimulus. It is a learning process to add a particular thing to our environment to predict what will happen next. Classical conditioning occurs when a conditioned stimulus is combined with an unconditioned stimulus. Typically, the conditioned stimulus (CS) is an unbiased stimulus like the sound of a tuning fork, the unconditioned stimulus (US) is biologically dominant like the taste of food and the unconditioned response (UR) to an unconditioned stimulus is an unintentional one, it is a reflex reaction such as salivation or sweating. After this pairing process is repeated (for example, learning may have already occurred after a pairing), an individual shows a conditioned response (CR) to the conditioned stimulus, when the conditioned stimulus is presented alone. The conditioned response is mostly similar to the unconditioned response, but unlike the unconditioned response, it must be acquired through experience and is almost temporary.
- Operant Conditioning Theory: – Operant conditioning theory is also known as instrumental conditioning. This principle is a learning process in which behaviour is sensitive to or controlled by its consequences. The second type of conditioning is called operant conditioning. Here, we learn that a particular behavior usually has a reward or punishment. What Pavlov did for classical conditioning, Harvard psychologist B.F. Skinner did it for operant conditioning. Operant conditioning argues that one’s behavior will depend on a variety of situations. People will repeatedly behave in a specific way from which they will benefit. On the other hand, they will try to avoid behavior where they will get nothing. Skinner argued that creating pleasant consequences for specific forms of behavior would increase the frequency of that particular behavior. Let’s take the example of a child. A child can learn to open a box to get candy inside, or learn to avoid touching a hot stove. In comparison, classical conditioning develops a relationship between a stimulus and a behaviour. The example can be further elaborated as the child may learn to tremble by looking at candy or seeing an angry parent. In the 20th century, the study of animal learning was ordered to analyse these two types of learning, and they are still at the core of behavioural analysis.
- Social Learning Theory: – Social Learning theory is also called observational learning theory. This theory emphasizes on learning through observation of other’s. The main assumptions of social learning theory are as follows: –
- Learning is not actually behavioural, rather it is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context.
- Learning can occur by observing a behaviour and observing the consequences of the behaviour (known as vicarious reinforcement).
- Learning involves observation, extracting information from those observations, and making decisions about behaviour performance (known as observational learning or modelling). Thus, learning may go beyond an observable change in behaviour.
- Reinforcement plays an important role in learning but is not solely responsible for learning.
- The learner is not a passive recipient of information. Understanding, environment and behaviour all mutually influence each other.
- Cognitive Learning Theory: – Cognition defines a person’s thoughts, ideas, knowledge, interpretation, understanding about himself and about the environment. This theory expresses the belief that learning involves gaining knowledge and understanding it by absorbing information in the form of principles, concepts and facts and then internalizing it. It assumes that a person learns the meaning of various objects and events and also learns to respond based on the meaning given to stimuli. The knowledge and understanding of learners can be enriched and internalized by exposing them to learning materials e.g. Case studies , projects, problem solving activities can also be used for this purpose. Self – directed learning, personal development, planning activities and discovery learning process with the help of facilitator and mentors are underpinned by cognitive learning theory. Cognitive theory has been used to explain mental processes as they are influenced by both internal and external factors, which ultimately bring about learning in an individual. Cognitive learning theory implies that the various processes related to learning are first explained by analyzing the mental processes. It envisions that with effective cognitive processes, it is easier to learn new information stored in memory over the long term. On the other hand, ineffective cognitive processes result in learning difficulties that one can trace back.
Improving Individual’s Behaviour
An individual’s behaviour in an organization is directly or indirectly affected by learning. Example – Employee skills, manager’s attitude is all learned.
Behaviour can be improved by following the listed tips: –
- Minimizing absenteeism by rewarding employees for their proper attendance.
- To improve employee discipline by taking appropriate action like verbal reprimand, written warning and suspension to deal with undesirable behaviour of employee, drinking at workplace, theft, being late etc.
- To develop training programs more frequently so as to attract the attention of the trainees, impart necessary motivational qualities etc.