Organization learning modes in India’s firms – Strategies or Models of Organization Learning

2.30 Strategies or Models of Organization Learning

Organization learning may proceed via various strategies. Nonaka, Toyama and Byosiere (2003) for instance propose a three layer model via which knowledge is created, by the interaction of these layers. The first layer is the creation of knowledge via “socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization (SECI)”, which represent the processes through which knowledge is converted from tacit (inherent skills) to explicit forms (Nonaka, Toyama & Byosiere 2003, p. 493). The platforms that allow the creation of knowledge is the second layer, and the third layer is are the assets i.e. the inputs, outputs and those that moderate the process of creating knowledge (Nonaka, Toyama & Byosiere 2003, p. 493).

According to such layers, various ways exist through which organizations acquire knowledge. Huber (1991) for instance provides five ways of knowledge acquisition. Firstly, organizations could acquire knowledge through congenital learning, where the founders of new organizations (whether individuals or other existing organizations) have some knowledge about the environment in which the new organization will operate, based on prevailing concepts of how organizational processes proceeds, processes that have become institutionalized in the society, and knowledge gathered before the actual operations begin (Huber 1991).

Secondly, Huber (1991) identifies experiential learning that occurs through such processes as organizational experiments, self appraisals, and unintentional or unsystematic learning. Thirdly, organization could learn from vicarious learning, where “strategies, administrative practices and … technologies … of other organizations” form the basis of their learning process (Huber 1991, p. 96). Fourthly, organizations could learn through grafting: sourcing new members with knowledge that was previously absent in the organization (Huber 1991). This is exemplified by acquisitions or mergers aimed at providing an entity with capabilities to offer more products e.g. provide services. Fifthly, learning could occur through searching and noticing, with searching involving such aspects as scanning, focused search and performance monitoring (Huber 1991). Scanning is a broad assessment of the organization’s external environment, focused search involves close examination of internal and external environment, whereas performance monitoring, is the assessment of actual performance based of pre-established targets (Huber 1991). Whereas searching is an intentional aspect, noticing is unintentional “acquisition of information about the organization’s external environment, internal conditions, or performance” (Huber 1991, p. 97).

After acquisition, Huber (1991) postulates that the next stage of learning is information distribution. Distribution, in this respect determines the occurrence and extent of learning. With respect to occurrence, an organization learns via sharing pieces of information from its constituent units to effectuate its processes (Huber 1991). Based on the suggestion that that “organizations do not often know what they know”, distribution as a determinant of extent of organizational learning, means that such sharing of information helps organizations expound on what they know (Huber 1991, p. 101). Other aspects of organizational learning are information interpretation (giving meaning to information), and organizational memory (e.g. storage and retrieval of knowledge) (Huber 1991). Go to the methodology here.

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