Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploitation and exploration as collective learning strategies in a complex environment: A case study of a Chinese manufacturing enterprise
by Gottemoeller, Mary E., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2010, 197; 3397681
Abstract (Summary)

This study explored the dynamic learning processes of a privately owned Chinese manufacturing enterprise from 2004 to 2008 by analyzing the actions and interactions of a collective that resulted in exploration and exploitation learning strategies (March, 1991).

The exploratory case study used a model of dynamic learning processes at the collective level developed by Schwandt (2008) as its organizing framework. March's constructs of exploration and exploitation as organizational learning strategies were the outcome studied. Complex adaptive systems theory (Anderson, 1999) informed the analysis by focusing the inquiry on the actions and interactions of agents within the collective. Study data were collected through interviews with 11 participants in the company's proposal development process. The group spanned multiple levels and functions within the organization and served as a focus of collective learning during the period examined by the study. Additional data were derived from company documents, media articles, and researcher observations.

The study found that a sequential application of exploration and exploitation, with a period of intensive importation of new information followed by a period of sustained exploitation, can result in a large growth in collective capability in a very short time. Exploration/exploitation can coexist in a system and lead to “paradoxical and complex social conditions.” The lens of complex adaptive systems theory is useful in examining the nonlinear and multilevel nature of the coexistence of the two strategies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schwandt, David R.
Commitee: Cseh, Maria, DeWoskin, Kenneth R.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Education and Human Development
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 71/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Asian Studies, Management, Business education
Keywords: CAS, China, Collective, Complex adaptive systems, Exploration exploitation, Learning, Organization
Publication Number: 3397681
ISBN: 9781109697988
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