The Situated Nature of Adaptive Learning in Organizations
Author(s)Tyre, Marcie J.; von Hippel, Eric A
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This paper explores the nature of adaptive learning around new technology in organizations. To understand this issue, we examine the process of problem solving involving new production equipment during early factory use. We find that adaptation is a situated process, in that different organizational settings (1) contain different kinds of clues about the underlying issues, (2) offer different resources for generating and analyzing information, and (3) evoke different assumptions on the part of problem solvers. Consequently, actors frequently must move in an alternating fashion between different organizational settings before they can identify the causal underpinnings of a problem and develop a suitable solution. These findings suggest that traditional, decontextualized theories of adaptive learning and of collaboration could be improved by taking into account that learning occurs through people interacting in context—or, more specifically, in multiple contexts. Learning is often enhanced not just by bringing people together, but by moving them around to confront different sorts of clues, gather different kinds of data, use different kinds of tools, and experience different pressures relevant to a given problem. We discuss both managerial and theoretical implications of these findings.
DepartmentSloan School of Management
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS)
Tyre, Marcie J. and Eric von Hippel. "The Situated Nature of Adaptive Learning in Organizations." Organization Science 8, 1 (February 1997): 71-83. © 1997 INFORMS
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