Advanced model of the organizational learning process

Most of the models in Table 1.4 consist of four different stages. March and Olsen (1975) pay great attention to the interaction among individuals, organizations and environments; Mtiller-Stewens and Pautzke (Rosengarten, 1999) to the transformation from individual-level learning to group-level learning, which the model of Dixon (1999) lacks because she separates two learnings into two independent circular processes. All the organizational learning process models include and regard individual-level learning as an important part of the organizational learning process, but none cover organizational-level knowledge, explain the transformation from individual-level learning to organizational-level learning or regard them as an important component of organizational learning. A complex model of the organizational learning process, however, describes the relations between different learning levels respectively.

(1) Model of Organizational Learning Process by Muller-Stewens and Pautzke (Rosengarten, 1999)

The model that they put forward entails that an individual, through "action,” generates some knowledge based on his/her own experience or understanding of the environment; that individual knowledge, through “group learning,” can be transformed to organizational knowledge; that individual knowledge has to be transformed to organizational knowledge only through "instimtionalization” so as to make individual knowledge available to the entire organization; and that the institutionalized and authoritative knowledge will in turn bring impact on individual action in the future so as to achieve the circle. The model depicts the relations between individual knowledge and organizational knowledge as well as the relations between organizational knowledge and individual action, though it has the obvious drawback that an organization camiot produce a certain kind of experience. The model ofNonaka and Takeuclii (1995) conducted more elaborate and in-depth description of knowledge generation at the individual, group and organizational levels.

(2) Model of the Five Stages of Organizational Knowledge Creation by Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995)

Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) put forward Model of the Five Stages of Organizational Knowledge Creation from the perspective of the knowledge creation, which bases its epistemological and ontological dimensions on the spiral of knowledge creation. Epistemologically, they draw the distinction between implicit knowledge and explicit knowledge, as they emphasize the transformation between different knowledge models. The process starts with socialization (i.e., field building), followed by extemalization (i.e., dialogue or collective reflection) and combination (i.e., connection with explicit knowledge), and ends with internalization (i.e., learning through action). Based on this, the circle can then start again. Ontologically, knowledge is generated on different levels: from individual level to group level and then to organizational level, or even to inter-organizational level. The combination of the two dimensions brings about five facilitating conditions: intention, autonomy, fluctuation/creative chaos, redundancy and requisite variety, from which the Model of the Five Stages of Organizational Knowledge Creation comes into being.

The model starts with sharing tacit knowledge (socialization) among individuals in a group, transforms the implicit knowledge to explicit knowledge (extemalization)—which should be justified by verifying the concepts through extemalization—then constructs an archetype (combination) and ends up with interactive knowledge dissemination from one unit to other units in the organization (transformation). The circle can re-start from any phase, and another process of learning can be restarted through the knowledge user's action (internalization).

However, Nonaka and Takeuchi emphasize only the double-loop learning of the team that explores new products. It is a limitation of the model because of its weakening of individual learning and single-loop learning, and its extemalization as premise. In fact, externalization is only a sufficient, not a necessary condition for organizational learning. In this regard, organizational knowledge creation by improving existent products is therefore omitted, which is, on the contrary, an overall advantage of Japanese enterprises. In addition, the model lacks evaluation of model interruptions, for which Kim (1993) makes up in his circle model of organizational learning to some extent.

(3) The Integrated Model Put Forward by Kim (1993)

Based on the models of Argyris and Schon(1978) and Daft and Weick (1984), Kim (1993) put forward what he believed to be the integrated model. His circular model of organizational learning describes the transformation from individual learning to organizational learning. He divides the individual learning circle into two groups related to "frameworks” and "routines.” The first group is “concep- mal individual learning” (know why), which includes “evaluation” and "design,” and they are influenced by the "framework” of the individual mental model. The other group is “operational individual learning” (know how), which includes "evaluation” and "observation,” and they are influenced by the "routines” of the individual mental model.

Kim believes that the interplay between the individual and shared mental models associates individual learning with organizational learning. His so-called shared mental model is a mix of "world views,” which is an organization’s view of the world. That is, the individual mental model influences the shared mental model to realize the transformation from individual learning to organizational learning and vice versa to realize the transformation from organizational-level learning to individual learning.

Compared with the model of Nonaka and Takeuchi. Kim's model not only includes single-loop and double-loop learning but also depicts the transformation between individual learning and organizational learning. Yet, he overlooked the important role of groups in organizational learning. Later, he regarded groups as "micro organizations” or "extended individuals,” but that didn’t solve the problem. His model is too complex to follow, and he fails to pay attention to inter- organizational learning.

  • (4) Dynamic Model of Organizational Learning Proposed by Crossan et al.
  • (1999)

The dynamic model of organizational learning includes three learning levels (individual, group and organizational), four psychological and social interaction processes (intuition, interpretation, integration and institutionalization), and two processes of information flow (feedback and feed forward). This model obtains in-depth analysis of the different mechanisms of organizational learning at different levels, the relationship between different levels of learning and the knowledge flow in two different directions. However, this model excludes inter- organizational learning and puts too much emphasis on the potential intuitive and unconscious learning process in the organization, thus neglecting explicit regular learning process in the general sense.

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