THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE PAST: ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING UNDER AMBIGUITY *

THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE PAST: ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING UNDER AMBIGUITY * ABSTRACT Classical theories of omniscient rationality in organizational decision‐making have largely been replaced by a view of limited rationality, but no similar concern has been reflected in the analysis of organizational learning. There has been a tendency to model a simple complete cycle of learning from unambiguous experience and to ignore cognitive and evaluative limits on learning in organizations. This paper examines some theoretical possibilities for assuming that individuals in organizations modify their understanding in a way that is intendedly adaptive even though faced with ambiguity about what happened, why it happened, and whether it is good. To develop a theory of learning under such conditions, we probably require ideas about information exposure, memory, and retrieval; learning incentives; belief structures; and the micro development of belief in organizations. We exhibit one example by specifying a structural theory of the relations among liking, seeing, trusting, contact, and integration in an organization. The argument is made that some understanding of factors affecting learning from experience will not only be important to the improvement of policy making in an organizational context, but also a necessary part of a theory of organizational choice. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png European Journal of Political Research Wiley

THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE PAST: ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING UNDER AMBIGUITY *

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1975 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0304-4130
eISSN
1475-6765
DOI
10.1111/j.1475-6765.1975.tb00521.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

ABSTRACT Classical theories of omniscient rationality in organizational decision‐making have largely been replaced by a view of limited rationality, but no similar concern has been reflected in the analysis of organizational learning. There has been a tendency to model a simple complete cycle of learning from unambiguous experience and to ignore cognitive and evaluative limits on learning in organizations. This paper examines some theoretical possibilities for assuming that individuals in organizations modify their understanding in a way that is intendedly adaptive even though faced with ambiguity about what happened, why it happened, and whether it is good. To develop a theory of learning under such conditions, we probably require ideas about information exposure, memory, and retrieval; learning incentives; belief structures; and the micro development of belief in organizations. We exhibit one example by specifying a structural theory of the relations among liking, seeing, trusting, contact, and integration in an organization. The argument is made that some understanding of factors affecting learning from experience will not only be important to the improvement of policy making in an organizational context, but also a necessary part of a theory of organizational choice.

Journal

European Journal of Political ResearchWiley

Published: Jun 1, 1975

References

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