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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Relationship of Organizational Learning to Knowledge Management and its Impact on Innovation
by Wallace, Richard B., D.Sc., The George Washington University, 2010, 149; 3440053
Abstract (Summary)

This research shows organizational learning and knowledge management are interrelated and that the interrelationship addresses two specific problems van de Venn (1986) identified as being present in any attempt to innovate. Those two problems are managing ideas and managing the part whole relationship. Managing ideas is a process of relating the ownership of an idea, the interpretive frames of reference, the amount of energy and commitment, backgrounds and work activities via the relationships the idea owner has within the organization. Managing of ideas is one problem but how the parts of that idea are broken out and how does the organization make sense of ideas in the context of the problems that it is trying to solve is the essence of the part whole relationship. Innovation is a collective activity. Therefore, over time, a vast array of individuals become involved in the activity, with each bringing their own set of experiences, expectations, and perspectives to a problem. Managing the increasing bundles of information over time becomes a complex, critical task for innovation.

Organizational learning and knowledge management were shown using the grounded theory methodology to be interrelated in very specific ways. The interrelationship of organizational learning and knowledge management which address the problem of managing ideas are: (1) Organizational fit of ideas, (2) The propagation of ideas across an enterprise and, (3) The managing of the desired behaviors in the organization in order to take advantage of the new ideas.

The managing of desired behaviors, in essence change management is one of the most striking findings in the research. The research found that it is as essential to manage the acceptance of new ideas within an organization as managing the ideas themselves.

If ideas came in complete packages it would be relatively easy for the organization to take advantage of what it knows or what it is learning. Unfortunately, managing how pieces of ideas or parts of previous concepts can combine into new ways of doing business is more often the challenge to an organization and the second area that the interrelationship of organizational learning and knowledge management affect innovation via affecting the part whole aspect of idea management. Those interrelationships are most pronounced in the areas of: (1) Capturing the diversity of viewpoints from within the organization, (2) The organizations understanding of the meaning of the new idea or concept and, (3) Having a way to continually generate new ideas.

Managing the part whole relationship is about managing the combination and connection of ideas while the managing of ideas is about managing the flow of that output through the organization. Understanding the relationship between organizational learning and knowledge management and the impact on discrete problems that affect any organizational innovation provides a practical approach for any organization to assess its innovation effort and the priorities for investing precious resources and adds to the body of knowledge.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stankosky, Michael A.
Commitee: Calabrese, Francesco A., Eisner, Howard, Mazzuchi, Thomas, Murphree, Lile, Wiet, Stephan
School: The George Washington University
Department: Engineering Mgt and Systems Engineering
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 72/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Entrepreneurship, Management, Organization Theory
Keywords: Innovation, Knowledge management, Organizational learning
Publication Number: 3440053
ISBN: 978-1-124-46465-7
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