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Team learning on the edge of chaos

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Purpose ‐ Organizations as complex networks aim to survive. The purpose of this paper is to provide an alternative perspective to current organizational challenges by considering team learning as key factor for surviving this turbulent environment. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The dominating approach in this paper comes from the complexity paradigm. This paper examines team learning of an actual case of an organization in a fast changing environment. It explores the business applicability of concepts of complexity theory to the issues described in the case. Furthermore, it synthesizes these concepts with literature on learning in general and team learning in particular. Findings ‐ For coping with highly dynamic environments, management should reconsider traditional ways of thinking. Teams as networks of learning are a valuable corporate asset that an organization needs to foster when aiming to survive. Measures like minimal interaction rules, individual autonomy and a flexible organization structure demand a new perspective in which subjectivity, non-linear methods and understanding replace attempts for objectivity, linear thinking and control. Practical implications ‐ The alternative approach from the complexity paradigm may be of benefit when handling managerial and organizational issues. Like the challenge of the organization of this case study is shifted from managing teams to facilitating team learning. Originality/value ‐ The paper offers a better understanding of the team learning process and how learning is shared within an organization from an alternative perspective.
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Keywords: Corporate strategy; Learning; Networking; Team learning

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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