• Inge Røgild Jensen
  • Louise Koksbang
4. term, Learning and Innovative Change, Master (Master Programme)
During the last 10 years the use of mentor programs has increased in organizations. This is due to the fact that organizations have an interest in knowledge creation and knowledge sharing and compete against each other in this aspect, for example to keep the well-educated employees in the organization. Therefore, there is a natural interest in finding tools that can accommodate this challenge, and today mentor program is often used for this purpose.
Usually, it is the human resources managers’ tasks to handle a “tool” like mentor programs and play a bridging role between the organizational strategy and the employees’ praxis and focus on organizational learning. This can be a very challenging task, and sometimes some developing projects like mentor programs come to nothing or turn into hot air. By this, we mean that the purpose with the program and organizational learning is not achieved and accomplished. This is caused by several aspects and leads us to our research question:
How can one understand mentor programs, HR and organizational learning processes in the complexity theory optics – and how can HR underpin complex organizational learning processes through mentor programs?

The thesis discusses this issue in different ontologies, a complex point of view and a main-stream. We argue for more opportunities, payoff and potential regarding learning in a complex point of view.
Our theory of science is based on Prigorine and Poincare. Prigorine argues that you cannot separate the nature science from the human science when you look on reality. It is a mix between these two. Furthermore, Poincare observed when there are more than 3 in a system, things get complex, unpredictable and non-lineare. If you relate this to an organization this means that you cannot control what happens in an organization.
This leads us to the main theorist of the thesis, Ralph Stacey, Professor of Management on the University of Hertfordshire. He distances himself from the mainstream ontology, which in Stacey’s terminology includes dominating discourses like the systemic theory and the social constructionism. They tend to separate the individual from the social in systems, and think that a human resources manager can plan and control a mentor program as an external part of the system and manage knowledge.
On the contrary, Stacey argues for a complex ontology that does not separate the individual from the social. According to Stacey, everything takes place in the complex responsive processes in which you always are participating and is a dynamic interplay between the micro and macro levels. Furthermore, since everything happens unpredictably, it makes no sense that a Human Resources Manager to try to control and plan what happens in mentor programs, but instead have a more ongoing negotiation with the participants of the mentor program. Stacey also thinks that it is not possible to manage knowledge, since knowledge arises dynamically in the local interactions.
We also included Kenneth Moelbjerg Jorgensen’s two notions about the strategy narrative and the living storys in order to supply the micro and macro level from Stacey. We used these two notions in order to find the edge of chaos in the organizational landscape in which the Human Resources Manager can underpin organizational learning processes between stability (the strategy narratives and dominant voices) and instability (the living stories).
We explored this issue in interviews, observations and documents in our casestudy of Hjoerring Kommune, and their mentor programs in connection to leader development program. Our analysis found examples of places between micro and macro levels in the mentor program and argues that Human Resources Managers should pay attention to the opportunities given by the dynamic power-relation, in which they themselves play an important part. When, according to Stacey, you cannot predict what the consequences of your actions will be, you have to act transparently and openly in the organizations about the program intentions. As a Human Resource manager, you must be reflexively and ask questions about “what are are we doing right now?” The focus on ethics in the living present is of great importance, because we cannot undo the past nor predict the future. Therefore our choices and actions must be held to a negotiation of ethics in the present.
Our conclusion is that in order to underpin the organizational learning you have to negotiate and take part in the local interactions. Opportunities arise when you loosen up the control and instead pay attention to the living present. Instead of holding on to the strategies then work with a strategic intentions. That way organizational learning processes will give much more valuable and potentially payoff. All in all, we should continue doing what we are doing.

Publication date5 Aug 2013
Number of pages83
External collaboratorHjørring Kommune
Karina Holm karina.holm.hansen@hjoerring.dk
ID: 79070536