Organisational learning and the real estate brokerage industry in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Studies in Property at Massey University
The real estate brokerage industry offers and interesting opportunity to explore organisational response in an environment of rapid change. This thesis studies the effectiveness of organisational learning and more specifically the 'Learning Company' concept as a mechanism to cope with this change.
In the present real estate environment, on going learning at both individual and organisational levels would seem a necessary part, not only of the continued commercial viability of real estate offices, but also of the creation of pleasant and fulfilling work environments. The focus of this thesis is organisational learning in real estate brokerage offices and a central purpose is to examine the degree to which they are perceived by staff as places of learning.
The study also examines the link between organisational learning and overall office performance. Success criteria such as staff recruitment and retention, management and business competency, ethical practice, reputation, stimulating culture, qualification levels, and innovative marketing practice as well as profitability are used to measure performance. The SPSS statistical package is used to analyse data collected from a survey of real estate offices in the Auckland area. Qualitative information from in-depth staff interviews is also analysed to overlay the quantitative results with some real life stories of learning practices.
The thesis finds that organisational learning is occurring at different degrees in real estate offices and that there are important differences between 'high' and 'low' scoring learning offices. It finds that while there is a link between office learning and performance, there are also other important factors such as office size, market location and the office franchise group affiliation. It also finds that the highly competitive nature of the real estate industry, together with emphasis on the training of individuals, may be a barrier to organisational learning. It suggests that some attitudes, behaviours and customs that have become embedded in the real estate culture may need to be changed before the benefits of organisational learning can be fully utilised as one way of coping with a rapidly changing environment.