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Deriving value from inter-organizational learning collaborations

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Purpose ‐ This paper aims to develop the understanding of how organizations can derive more value from participating in inter-organizational learning collaborations. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The collaboration is viewed as one "level" within an extended organizational learning system and both feedback processes between levels and the dynamics within the collaboration itself are explored. Seven learning-based inter-organizational learning collaborations are studied using a qualitative exploratory research design. An extensive literature review is used to design the semi-structured interviews undertaken with participants in the collaborations, as well as the convenor of each. Findings ‐ Multiple forms of value are evident (individual capacity building, operational value, affirmation, reputation and relationship building and learning about how to collaborate more effectively), though subject specific organizational capability building is rarely achieved. Two main factors seemed to influence this: individuals not translating the implications of the learning, and the organizations not transferring and amplify that learning. Building capability required a visible long-term commitment by leaders to the collaboration. Research limitations/implications ‐ Confirmatory research is needed to refine the proposed framework of actions to develop the organizational capability to derive value from participating in this kind of collaboration. Practical implications ‐ A coherent set of actions is proposed for organizations wishing to build the capability to derive more value from participating in inter-organizational learning collaborations. Recommendations are also generated for those wishing to convene a collaboration. Originality/value ‐ The contribution is the development of the concept of the organizational capability to participate effectively in inter-organizational learning collaborations, and the identification of a coherent set of actions required to develop this capability.
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Keywords: Knowledge sharing; Leadership; Learning organizations

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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