Learning Climate

A climate in which:

  • Leaders express their own fallibility and need for team members‚Äô assistance and input;
  • Team members feel that they are essential, valued, and knowledgeable partners in the change process;
  • Individuals feel psychologically safe to try new methods;
  • There is sufficient time and space for reflective thinking and evaluation.¬†¬†

A climate in which: leaders express their own fallibility and need for team members’ assistance and input; team members feel that they are essential, valued, and knowledgeable partners in the change process; individuals feel psychologically safe to try new methods; and there is sufficient time and space for reflective thinking and evaluation (in general, not just in a single implementation) [1][2][3].¬†These interrelated practices and beliefs support and enable employee and organizational skill development, learning, and growth to maximize an organization’s absorptive capacity for new knowledge and methods [4].¬†Quantitative measurement instruments are available for measuring an organization’s ‘learning’ capability [5].

We include learning ‚Äúclimate‚ÄĚ instead of ‚Äúculture‚ÄĚ (as described in most of the literature) because we are interested in the learning climate of micro-environments related to specific implementations. The degree to which an organization demonstrates ‚Äúlearning‚ÄĚ attributes will vary across sub-groups and local manifestations of these attributes may have a stronger influence than a measure of overall organizational learning [6].¬†The literature on team learning has emphasized the organization‚Äôs role in creating the climate to enable learning and fosters collaboration within and between cross-disciplinary teams [7].¬†Quantitative measurement instruments are available for measuring an organization‚Äôs ‚Äúlearning‚ÄĚ capability [5][8].¬†However, there is not agreement on precisely how to operationalize this construct. Despite this, we can make some generalizations. In a positive learning climate, stakeholders are not constrained by failure. A climate of psychological safety is promoted.¬†Having the time and space for reflective thinking and evaluation (see Reflecting and Evaluating) is another important characteristic at least, in part, because it promotes learning from past successes and failures to inform future implementations [6][9][10].¬†Developing a climate that promotes learning is a ‚Äúcore property‚ÄĚ that health care organizations need for on-going quality improvement [11, pg. 287]. A learning climate is an important contributor for increasing absorptive capacity for new knowledge: the ability of an organization to fully assimilate interventions [4].¬†Greenhalgh, et al. include learning organization culture within their concept of absorptive capacity of new knowledge along with existing knowledge and skills (tacit and explicit), and within proactive leadership.

Inclusion Criteria

Include statements that support (or refute) the degree to which key components of an organization exhibit a ‚Äúlearning climate.‚ÄĚ

  • “Last year we had a colossal failure in trying to change our procedure to check patients in. We met about that and we are looking forward to trying something like that again because we agreed on what we think caused the failure.‚ÄĚ
  • ‚ÄúI emphasize with my team that they need to bring out any and all problems.‚ÄĚ

Exclusion Criteria

Currently no criteria are listed; as we become aware of criteria, we will post them here. Please contact us with updates.

Maria Fernandez and colleagues developed 5 items related to Learning Climate. Measures are available for review here. For permission to use, please contact Dr. Fernandez at: Maria.E.Fernandez at uth-dot-tmc-dot-edu

Also, check out SIRC’s Instrument Review project and published systematic review protocol, which has cataloged over 400 implementation-related measures. 

Note: As we become aware of measures, we will post them here. Please contact us with updates.

  1. Klein KJ, Sorra JS: The Challenge of Innovation Implementation. The Academy of Management Review 1996, 21:1055-1080.
  2. Klein KJ, Conn AB, Sorra JS: Implementing computerized technology: An organizational analysis. J Appl Psychol 2001, 86:811-824.
  3. Nembhard I, Edmonson A: Making it safe: the effects of leader inclusiveness and professional status on psychological safety and improvement efforts in health care teams. Journal of Organizational Behavior 2006, 27:941-966.
  4. Greenhalgh T, Robert G, Macfarlane F, Bate P, Kyriakidou O: Diffusion of innovations in service organizations: systematic review and recommendations. Milbank Q 2004, 82:581-629.
  5. Templeton GF, Lewis BR, Snyder CA: Development of a measure for the organizational learning construct. Journal of Management Information Systems 2002, 19:175-218.
  6. Edmondson AC, Bohmer RM, Pisana GP: Disrupted routines: Team learning and new technology implementation in hospitals. Adm Sci Q 2001, 46:685-716.
  7. Edmondson AC: The local and variegated nature of learning in organizations: A group-level perspective. Organization Science 2002, 13 128-146.
  8. Goh S, Richards G: Benchmarking the learning capability of organizations. European Management Journal 1997, 15:575-583.
  9. Helfrich CD, Weiner BJ, McKinney MM, Minasian L: Determinants of implementation effectiveness: adapting a framework for complex innovations. Med Care Res Rev 2007, 64:279-303.
  10. Theory at a Glance: A guide for health promotion practice (PDF)
  11. Ferlie EB, Shortell SM: Improving the quality of health care in the United Kingdom and the United States: a framework for change. Milbank Q 2001, 79:281-315.