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Typologizing organizational amnesia

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This article proposes that a major problem limiting an organization's ability to develop organizational learning capacity is of organizational amnesia. To understand organizational amnesia, it is necessary to look at the various ways that organizational learning is defined. Organizational learning is not merely the process of acquiring knowledge. Rather, the learning that takes place at the individual's level has to be diffused to other parts of the organization. This, in turn, enables the organizations to make decisions that will enable it to respond and adapt to change and uncertainty. Specifically, this adaptation is brought about through double-looping learning and involves a re-examination of fundamental assumptions. This article defines organizational amnesia as the failure of organizations to learn reliably at the organizational level. Builds upon the work of Crossan et al. who provide a framework of organizational learning that involves four processes of learning. They argue that organizational learning involves the processes of intuiting, interpreting, integrating and institutionalising. It is proposed that organizational amnesia happens primarily due to the failure to effectively undergo the integrating and institutionalizing stage.
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Keywords: Knowledge Management; Learning; Learning Organizations

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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