mproving Organizational Learning at the Estonian National Defence College


  • Rainek Kuura
  • Reelika Suviste
  • Svetlana Ganina



A. A. Svechin has stated that strategy is the art of combining preparations for war with grouping operations in order to achieve a goal determined by the war. Therefore, organizational learning is essential for armies in today´s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment. Furthermore, it is also extremely necessary if they hope to meet the requirements of future wars or armed conflicts. Therefore, organizational learning can be seen as a critical component in preparing for the next war, rather than for the previous one. According to Peter Senge2, the founder of the learning organization (LO) theory, in a LO people continually broaden their knowledge and skills in order to achieve the desired results. A LO integrates its people, processes and structures3. Thus, learning should be seen as a vital part of all army structures and processes, despite the fact that it is a personal and individual process. Since little attention has been devoted to the application of LO ideas and practices in the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), the current study seeks to provide some suggestions for the Estonian National Defense College (ENDC) about developing its organizational learning capabilities. To reach this goal, the following research questions needed to be answered: 1. What are the weaknesses of organizational learning at the ENDC? 2. What are the strengths of organizational learning at the ENDC? 3. How can organizational learning at the ENDC be improved? After an extensive examination of the theoretical literature and multiple studies, the Army Learning Organization Questionnaire (ALOQ), was determined to be most suitable instrument for the study. The ALOQ was developed by the Australian Defense Science and Technology Organization from the highly regarded integrated learning organization model of Watkins and Marsick. It is comprised of eleven interrelated dimensions wherein learning occurs at similarly interrelated learning levels. These levels include: the individual, the team, the organizational and the global level. The questionnaire was translated and adapted from English into Estonian. On a six-point Likert scale the ratings from 245 respondents exceeded 3.0 for all of the dimensions. This shows that the ENDC follows rather robust learning organization practices and the results are similar to those of other government organizations from previous studies4. However, it must be kept in mind that these higher scores for LO dimensions were obtained from the first and secondyear cadets and students who have less knowledge of and, less experience with the ENDC and EDF organizational culture. Since the dimension that measures the encouragement of people towards a collaborative vision had the lowest scores, this area was identified as the main weakness towards developing a learning culture in the ENDC. In addition, the results presented differences in assessments between superiors and subordinates about the feedback to and from superiors. The dimension of strategic leadership had the highest scores and was identified as the main strength in developing learning culture at the ENDC. The results also revealed that highly educated and more experienced respondents tended to be more critical. This can actually be used as a strength to improve organizational learning. However, lack of feedback from superiors, and the opportunity to ask “why” questions from them, were nevertheless mentioned by subordinates, and should also be taken into consideration. In conclusion, the results present some valuable guidance for further developing organizational learning at the ENDC. The study suggests that leaders at all levels of the ENDC and EDF are attempting to foster personal mastery and direct the development of mental models, which is, according to the EDF’s protocols, one of the main tasks of the EDF during peacetime. This is to ensure readiness for military action in order to defend Estonia.


Download data is not yet available.