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Narratives of Learning, Development and Innovation: Evidence from a Manufacturing SME

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In this article we examine the connections between learning and innovation. We do so in a particular and distinctive way - not by hypothesizing causal linkages through statistical associations arising from a survey, but through detailed attention to the insights, understandings and perceived meaningful connections we observed in the discourse of participants in a highly innovative company. This company had robust and externally validated empirical measures of innovativeness and participants shared a sense of this. When we invited the managers, supervisors and operatives to give us narratives about innovations in the company, analysis of the interview transcripts showed an unusual degree of congruence between the understandings and sense-making of the various informants: both managers and employees alike seemed to perceive strong connections between the company's track record of innovative performance and its ingrained learning and development practices. Moreover, these connections were seen to extend backwards and forwards in time, and to extend to development in the local environment.
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Keywords: INNOVATION; LEARNING ORGANIZATIONS; SMALL TO MEDIUM-SIZED FIRMS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2001

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