The generative mechanism of organizational learning
Against the backdrop of economic globalization, what kind of leadership can promote a company's organizational learning? How do leaders promote organizational learning? These are the core issues that determine whether companies can achieve long-term development. Unfortunately, there are limited empirical studies on the mechanism of leadership's role in organizational learning in the literature (Berson et al., 2006; Vera & Manor, 2004). In practice, Chinese companies' leaders take more traditional measures such as imparting knowledge to and exchanging experience with employees when promoting organizational learning (China Entrepreneur Survey System, 2006). To put it simply, they do not know exactly "what to do” and “how to do” to better promote organizational learning of the company.
For the question of "what to do,” it has been confirmed by some research results (Arnitay et al., 2005; Jansen et al., 2007; Lam, 2002) that transformational leadership is an important leadership behavior that promotes organizational learning. However, this study holds a contingency view on the relationship between the two. On one hand, though it is true that some aspects of transformational leadership can promote organizational learning, some transformational leadership behaviors can hinder organizational learning; on the other hand, transactional
* This part was partially supported by grants from The National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No. 71871025).
leadership can also promote some aspects of organizational learning, albeit with hindrance aspects as well, which cannot be denied.
In terms of "how to do,” this study contends that leaders of Chinese companies can depart from both the “soft” and "hard” aspects to effectively facilitate organizational learning. On one hand, leaders can build an enabling learning atmosphere as the soft environment for the company to learn. On the other hand, they can enhance human resources management to reinforce the "hard” measures. Only when the leaders pay attention to both "soft” and hard” measures can they really promote the organizational learning of companies.