Organisational learning and knowledge management in the NHSBT: An evaluation of the impact a geographically dispersed, multi-functional organisation has on the ability to learn and share knowledge

Montgomery, Andrew (2012) Organisational learning and knowledge management in the NHSBT: An evaluation of the impact a geographically dispersed, multi-functional organisation has on the ability to learn and share knowledge. Masters thesis, University of Bolton.

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Since the first voluntary blood donations by members of the Camberwell Red Cross at the Kings College Hospital in 1921, to its inception in 1946, the organisation is steeped in history and culture. NHS Blood and Transplant was formed originally from 15 regional blood centres, previously operating in isolation of each other until 1994. After being devolved from the regional health authorities and 'nationalised', the organisation struggled to consolidate its new structure and it was not until the departure of its chief executive in 1998 that the organisation began to develop into the largely multi-directorate structure that it is today. However it remains geographically distributed as an organisation, operating out of 13 blood centres across England. The objective of the study was to investigate whether NHSBT operates as a unified learning organisation, freely sharing its knowledge and to assess how the structural design of the organisation, its culture and its leadership impact on its operation. A case study was undertaken within the estates and facilities directorate and comprised of data compiled from self-completed questionnaires and a series of focus group and semi-structured interviews. For the NHSBT to improve and sustain performance it must be able to learn; this is termed organisational learning, which in turn is dependent on the organisations ability to obtain and transform its knowledge, this is termed knowledge management. For successful OL and KM the organisation needs to recognise and nurture the links between individuals, groups, structure and the process of socialisation within the organisation. The study demonstrated the organisation does not exhibit the requisite characteristics identified for successful OL and KM in a number of areas. Research showed the organisation focuses heavily on policy, process and regulation. Its ability to adapt and change is hindered by bureaucracy and there is a culture of hierarchical control and authority; inhibiting the behaviours required for OL and KM. The research unsurprisingly demonstrated the blood centres are very focussed on their own operations. However, this focus affects the sites ability to share knowledge and best practice between peer colleagues across the regional, let alone national, structure of the organisation. Research showed that area managers don't necessarily share information and knowledge about organisational or directorate wide matters with site based staff, tending to focus on local matters only, inadvertently isolating their teams from the 'bigger picture'. The study determined there is a general view at operational level; the leadership of the organisation is isolated from site operations and the bureaucracy of the multi-directorate infrastructure, presented an emerging negative view of the national infrastructure as a whole. The study concluded with a number of recommendations designed to improve and encourage communication and collaboration within the estates and facilities directorate and the wider organisation. They include the engagement of the board of directors with operational staff, the cross fertilisation of senior directorate managers to openly share knowledge and experience with other directorates and the reduction of bureaucratic processes within the organisation to encourage effective OL and KM.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Project submitted in part fulfilment of the Master of Business Administration
Divisions: Business, Accountancy and Law > Business
University of Bolton Theses > Institute of Management
Depositing User: Scott Wilson
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2013 12:53
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2019 10:58

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