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Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management, Second Edition by MARJORIE A. LYLES, MARK EASTERBY-SMITH

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Definition of Constructs

Organizational learning

In defining ‘organizational learning,’ we agree with the growing group of theorists (e.g. Argyris and Schön, 1978; Duncan and Weiss, 1979; Miller, 1996) who emphasize the interrelationship between cognition and behavior and conclude that the learning process encompasses both cognitive and behavioral change. Individuals and groups learn by understanding and then acting or by acting and then interpreting (Crossan, Lane, White, and Djurfeldt, 1995). The definition of OL adopted for this chapter incorporates this thinking: organizational learning is the process of change in individual and shared thought and action, which is affected by and embedded in the institutions of the organization. When individual and group learning becomes institutionalized, organizational learning occurs and knowledge is embedded in non-human repositories such as routines, systems, structures, culture, and strategy (Crossan, Lane, and White, 1999; Nelson and Winter, 1982; Walsh and Rivera, 1991). The organizational learning system is comprised of the continually evolving knowledge stored in individuals, groups, and the organization and constitutes the fundamental infrastructure that supports a firm’s strategy formulation and implementation processes.

Early work in organizational learning, spearheaded by James March (Cohen and Sproull, 1996) made use of learning concepts that were translated from the psychology literature on individual learning (e.g. choice, ...

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