Functioning at the edge of knowledge A study of learning processes in new product development

Functioning at the edge of knowledge A study of learning processes in new product development Purpose – In the telecommunication industry, companies gain a competitive edge through the competence of their employees, making issues of learning critical. The study aims to identify specific learning processes necessary when working at the edge both of one's own knowledge and of that of the branch. Design/methodology/approach – This research draws on theories of learning through experience and interaction, and looks at software development engineers working at the interface between tele‐ and datacom within one company, Ericsson, Sweden. Data were collected in 2000 in four software‐engineering teams, through semi‐structured interviews, reflection groups and observations. Data were analyzed in an interplay between empirical findings and theoretical concepts. Findings – The research identified three kinds of learning processes in which employees engage to accomplish their tasks: learning basic knowledge; co‐creating new knowledge; and learning changing‐knowledge. Learning basic knowledge was a frequent returning to a state of knowing nothing among skilled workers. The co‐creation of new knowledge implied close interaction processes in the midst of carrying out difficult work tasks. Learning changing‐knowledge questioned hitherto acquired knowledge through the necessity of taking in new facts and aspects in relation to already existing deep and extensive knowing. Practical implications – Differentiating these learning processes has theoretical implications and a practical significance for organizations wanting to focus on competence and learning issues. Originality/value – When organizing for learning it is of crucial importance to be aware of the kind of actual learning processes that are ongoing and need support and infrastructure. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Workplace Learning Emerald Publishing

Functioning at the edge of knowledge A study of learning processes in new product development

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2005 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1366-5626
DOI
10.1108/13665620510625354
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – In the telecommunication industry, companies gain a competitive edge through the competence of their employees, making issues of learning critical. The study aims to identify specific learning processes necessary when working at the edge both of one's own knowledge and of that of the branch. Design/methodology/approach – This research draws on theories of learning through experience and interaction, and looks at software development engineers working at the interface between tele‐ and datacom within one company, Ericsson, Sweden. Data were collected in 2000 in four software‐engineering teams, through semi‐structured interviews, reflection groups and observations. Data were analyzed in an interplay between empirical findings and theoretical concepts. Findings – The research identified three kinds of learning processes in which employees engage to accomplish their tasks: learning basic knowledge; co‐creating new knowledge; and learning changing‐knowledge. Learning basic knowledge was a frequent returning to a state of knowing nothing among skilled workers. The co‐creation of new knowledge implied close interaction processes in the midst of carrying out difficult work tasks. Learning changing‐knowledge questioned hitherto acquired knowledge through the necessity of taking in new facts and aspects in relation to already existing deep and extensive knowing. Practical implications – Differentiating these learning processes has theoretical implications and a practical significance for organizations wanting to focus on competence and learning issues. Originality/value – When organizing for learning it is of crucial importance to be aware of the kind of actual learning processes that are ongoing and need support and infrastructure.

Journal

Journal of Workplace LearningEmerald Publishing

Published: Dec 1, 2005

Keywords: Experiential learning; Knowledge management; Product development; Learning processes; Telecommunications; Sweden

References

  • Experiential Learning
    Kolb, D.
  • Learning by Design
    Shani, A.B.; Docherty, P.
  • Communities of Practice
    Wenger, E.

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