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

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Introduction

Many have argued that the main function of organizational design is to manage and direct the time, attention, and flow of information among individuals and organizational units (Cyert and March, 1963; March and Simon, 1958; Ocasio, 1997). This function has become increasingly challenging over time, as the dynamics of globalization have exerted simultaneous pressures on organizations to be more efficient and competitive, while at the same time increasing the need for learning so that organizations and the individuals within them can keep up with new technologies and demands. Though conceptually the time and energy put toward learning and skill development should foster improved performance, some analyses suggest that learning and productivity can work at odds with one another (Bunderson and Sutcliffe, 2003; Edmondson and Singer, 2008; Ren, Carley, and Argote 2006). To accommodate the demands for higher productivity and faster learning, organizations have increasingly turned to using smaller and more flexible work units, such as teams, to accomplish their most important tasks. Over time the use of teams has shifted from team-based work in hierarchical structures, to team-based work in matrix structures, and ultimately to team-based work in multi-team systems (Hatch and Cunliffe, 2006; Hobday, 2000; Malone, 2004; Marks, Dechurch, Mathieu, Panzer, and Alonso, 2005; Scott and Davis, 2006) in part to enable the knowledge and skills of individuals and smaller units to be ...

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