Dr Kala Retna

Dr Kala Retna profile picture

Senior Lecturer School of Management


Teaching in 2019

Research interests

Organisational learning, learning organisation, culture, school leadership management, learning in higher education, cross-cultural management, design thinking.


Kala has a background both in management and education, and her research has canvassed the cultural dynamics that confronts learning models, such as the ‘learning organisation’ concept. Kala teaches organisational behaviour at various levels including undergraduates and post experience, and also has extensive experience in professional development, facilitation and teaching in diverse cultural backgrounds. She brings a wealth of experience from her earlier career in Singapore as a management practitioner and trainer to her roles in teaching and research.


MEd (Sheffield), PhD (Victoria University Wellington), Associate Diploma for Teachers (ATCL), UK

Research interests

  • Organisational Behaviour
  • Learning organisation
  • Organisational learning
  • National culture
  • Learning in higher education

For potential PhD applicants – please note my current research focus is on learning organisation, culture and learning in higher education and schools.

Publications and presentations


Retna, K. S, Different approaches to the professional development of principals: a comparative study of New Zealand and Singapore. School Leadership & Management, 35(5), (2015)

Retna, K.S, Consultants and their views on changing the mental models of clients, Journal of Change Management, DOI: 0.1080/14697017.2015.1121161 (2015)

Retna, K.S, ‘Stress and Coping Strategies: Participants’ Experiences with the ‘Art of Living’ in Singapore. South Asian Journal of Management, 22, 3 (2015), pp. 48-68.

Retna K, S, 'Insights from the use of Gardner’s notions of Mindset: group work', Journal of Further and Higher Education (2015), 39, 2 (2015), pp.180-24.

Retna K, Jones D H, 'The learning organisation and Singapore culture', The Learning Organization, 20, 4/5 (2013), pp. 338-351.

Retna K, Cavana R Y, 'Undergraduate management students’ perceptions of feedback in a New Zealand university', Journal of Management & Organization, 19, 2 (2013), pp. 224-237.

Retna, K, ‘Teacher Motivation: Junior College Tamil Teachers’. An International Journal of Tamil Studies, 5, 1 (2013).

Retna, K. S. & Cavana, R. Y. Undergraduate management students’ perceptions of feedback
in a New Zealand university. Journal of Management & Organization, 19:2 (2013), pp. 224–237

Retna, K. S. The relevance of ‘personal mastery’ to leadership: the case of school principals in Singapore. School Leadership & Management, 31:5, (2011) pp. 451-470.

Retna, K. S. & Ng. P. T (2011) ‘Communities of practice: dynamics and success factors, The Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 41-66.

Retna, K.S. & Usha, V (2010) ‘Effectiveness of quality work life balance programmes: employees’ perceptions’, International Journal of Quality and Innovation, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 97-111.

Sanga, J & Retna, K.S (2010) ‘An exploratory case study: Cultural effects of Knowledge Management in the Solomon Islands’, The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture & Change Management, Vol.10.

Retna, K.S. & Ng, P.T (2009) ‘The need for Transformational Leadership in Singapore’s School-Based Reform’, Journal of School Leadership, Vol. 19, No. 1.pp. 33-49.

Retna, K.S. Chong, E. & Cavana, R.Y (2009) ‘Tutors and Tutorials: Students’ perceptions in a New Zealand University’, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 251-260.

Retna K. S. & Ng, P. T. ' The Perception of staff on the effects of transformational leadership in a Singapore school', Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice, 23, 1 (2008), pp.64-77.

Retna, K. S. (2007) ‘Knowledge Management, Learning and National Culture: Insights from Organisations in Singapore’, The International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Vol 7, No 2.

Retna, K . S. & Bryson, J. E. (2007) ‘Asian Organisations meet North American Management Theory: The Case of Singapore and Senge’. In Cross-Cultural perspectives on Knowledge Management, (ed), D.J. Pauleen, 175-194, London, Libraries Unlimited.

Retna, K.S. (2006) ‘The Learning Organisation: A Comparative Study of Singapore Organisations’, International Journal of Learning, Vol 13, No 1.

Retna, K. S. & Ng, P. T. (2006) ‘The Challenges of Adopting the Learning Organisation Philosophy in a Singapore School’, International Journal of Educational Management, Vol 20, No 2.

Retna, K. S. (2005) ‘Universities as Learning Organisations’, Research and Development in Higher Education, Vol 28.

Retna, K. S. (2002) ‘The Fifth Discipline in a Highly Disciplined Singapore: An Innovative Learning Organisations and National culture’, Innovation: management, policy and practice, Vol 4, No 1-3, pp 215-226.

Conference presentations

Retna, K.S & Smith, A, ‘Exploring Gender and Workaholism in New Zealand’, in Proceedings of the Australia and New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) Conference (Queenstown, New Zealand, University of Otago, 2015)

Retna, K (2014) ‘Leading by design: Design thinking in schools’, in Proceedings of the New Zealand Educational and Administration Leadership Symposium, 29 Apr to 1 May 2014, Wellington, New Zealand

Retna, K. S. ‘Change Management: Consultants and mental models of clients’, in Proceedings of the Australia and New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) Conference. (Hobart, Australia, University of Tasmania, 2013).

Retna, K.S, ‘Design Thinking: Teachers perspectives’, a paper presented at the Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference in Singapore (3 – 5 June 2013).

Retna, K. S. & Jeyavelu, S. 'Transformational Leadership: A comparative study of Singapore and India' presented at International Conference on Educational Leadership (5 - 7 January, 2009).

Retna, K.S & Ng P.T. ‘Transformational Leadership: The case of a Singapore School’ presented at Asia Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA) (26 - 28 November, 2008).

Retna, K. S. ‘The Learning Organisation: A School's Journey Towards Critical and Creative Thinking’ presented at the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association International Conference, (28 - 30 November, 2006).

Retna, K. S. ‘Tutoring International Students’, presented at the Tertiary Education Research in New Zealand Conference (29-30 November, 2004).

Retna, K. S. & Jones, D. ‘Learning Organisation meets Singapore Culture’ presented at the Organisational Learning and Knowledge 5th International Conference, (30 May - 2 June, 2003).

Retna, K. S. ‘Challenging Singapore Culture: Turning Singapore School into a Learning Organisation’, presented at the Educational Research Association of Singapore, (20 – 22 November, 2002).

Retna, K. S. ‘East meets West: American Management Concepts and Singapore Culture’ presented at the NZASIA 14th International Conference (28 November - 1 December, 2001).


Retna, K. S. (2005) “National Culture and Senge's Learning Organisation”, PhD.


VUW Teaching Excellence Award - 2011.

New Researcher's Grant - 2006.


Teaching in 2019