Performance monitoring for organizational learning at Management Sciences for Health, South Africa

Govender, Jerusha
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Theoretical models link organizational learning and performance monitoring. Organizations with strong performance monitoring systems and structures which are used in organizational learning are able to achieve improved performance, adaptability, and sustainability. This is of particular importance to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which are in a resource competitive, and donor-driven environment. However, few published cases have presented practical examples of the use of performance monitoring for organizational learning. The aim of this study was to assess how performance monitoring was used by staff for organizational learning at Building Local Capacity for Delivery of HIV Services in Southern Africa (BLC), a Management Sciences for Health (MSH) project in South Africa. A case study approach was selected. The methodology included open-ended interviews with seven staff members in the project, and document and data review. The documents reviewed included the project monitoring and evaluation framework, MSH-South Africa strategic plan, MSH-South Africa learning plan, and the results of an organization learning assessment conducted in 2012. Themes and sub-themes were identified and used to conduct directed content analysis using Atlas Ti Software. The key findings of the study were:  Performance monitoring and organization learning is valued by Management Sciences for Health. It is included explicitly as part of country strategic road maps, and projects are supported to develop performance monitoring plans and organizational learning plans.  The MSH-BLC project has strong systems and structures for performance monitoring, and novel plans for organizational learning. However, these are donor-focused and Staff felt they have limited scope to influence and review them.  The Staff felt that there is multiple performance monitoring practices but few of them use these for learning purposes. A learning plan was developed to J. Govender – MM PDM Research Report 2014 4 improve this, and there is an ongoing restructuring process to enhance information sharing across the project.  Staff felt that they have limited opportunities and the culture does not permit them to critique performance monitoring information, make mistakes, or allow for space to review and think about performance information.  Staff had varied levels of performance monitoring and learning capacity. In conclusion, the current project culture and utilisation of performance monitoring presents opportunities for learning, but are not used optimally. Recommendations made are to adapt the performance monitoring plan, strengthen implementation of current systems through leadership, and establish measures to encourage review and reflection on performance information. Additional research is recommended in the areas of: evaluative thinking and its use in organizational sustainability; determinants of organizational learning in NGO sector; assessing whether learning translates to individual and organizational success; and a review on the success rate of organizations that have performance monitoring and organizational learning systems.
Thesis (M.M. (Public and Development Management))--University of the Witwatersrand, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, School of Governance, 2014.