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When problem solving prevents organizational learning

When problem solving prevents organizational learning We propose that research on problem‐solving behavior can provide critical insight into mechanisms through which organizations resist learning and change. In this paper, we describe typical front‐line responses to obstacles that hinder workers’ effectiveness and argue that this pattern of behavior creates an important and overlooked barrier to organizational change. Past research on quality improvement and problem solving has found that the type of approach used affects the results of problem‐solving efforts but has not considered constraints that may limit the ability of front‐line workers to use preferred approaches. To investigate actual problem‐solving behavior of front‐line workers, we conducted 197 hours of observation of hospital nurses, whose jobs present many problem‐solving opportunities. We identify implicit heuristics that govern the problem‐solving behaviors of these front‐line workers, and suggest cognitive, social, and organizational factors that may reinforce these heuristics and thereby prevent organizational change and improvement. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Organizational Change Management Emerald Publishing

When problem solving prevents organizational learning

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 MCB UP Ltd. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0953-4814
DOI
10.1108/09534810210423008
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We propose that research on problem‐solving behavior can provide critical insight into mechanisms through which organizations resist learning and change. In this paper, we describe typical front‐line responses to obstacles that hinder workers’ effectiveness and argue that this pattern of behavior creates an important and overlooked barrier to organizational change. Past research on quality improvement and problem solving has found that the type of approach used affects the results of problem‐solving efforts but has not considered constraints that may limit the ability of front‐line workers to use preferred approaches. To investigate actual problem‐solving behavior of front‐line workers, we conducted 197 hours of observation of hospital nurses, whose jobs present many problem‐solving opportunities. We identify implicit heuristics that govern the problem‐solving behaviors of these front‐line workers, and suggest cognitive, social, and organizational factors that may reinforce these heuristics and thereby prevent organizational change and improvement.

Journal

Journal of Organizational Change ManagementEmerald Publishing

Published: Apr 1, 2002

Keywords: Organizational change; Organizational learning; Problem solving

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