Organizational Learning in Libraries at For-Profit Colleges and Universities

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Academic libraries contribute to student engagement, student learning, and retention; therefore, the effects of improved library services for students may be positive and long lasting. However, despite successful application of organizational learning (OL), a strategic process for improvement, to enhance services in academic libraries, little is known about OL in libraries of for-profit colleges and universities (FPCUs). The purpose of this sequential explanatory mixed-methods study was to assess and explore the use of OL in libraries at FPCUs. Argyris and Schon's theory of organizational learning grounded this study. Responses to Chen's Processes and Phases of Organizational Learning Questionnaire, completed online by 38 respondents following a recruitment posting submitted to the electronic mailing list of the Association of College & Research Libraries Librarianship in For-Profit Educational Institutions interest group, reflected medium to high levels of OL in the libraries in the study. Multiple regression analysis indicated that the number of students enrolled was negatively related to OL score. Six survey respondent volunteers were interviewed to better understand how library staff members in FPCUs experienced OL. Common themes included external pressures from the FPCUs that made it more difficult for their libraries to implement OL, as well as the importance of communication among library team members. As a result of these findings, a manual about OL strategies for library employees in FPCUs was created. More knowledge about OL and its implications could lead to positive social change as libraries use it to better contribute to student learning and success.


A doctoral study submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education, Walden University, August 2018