Mining the past: historicizing organizational learning and change

Fear, J. (2014) Mining the past: historicizing organizational learning and change. In: Bucheli, M. and Wadhwani, R. D. (eds.) Organizations in Time: History, Theory, Methods. Oxford University Press: Oxford, pp. 169-191. ISBN 9780199646890 (doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646890.003.0007)

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If organizational learning is a process of discovery and adaptation, of working through new information and alternatives to come to new conclusions, new knowledge, and new strategies, then historical methods can be useful in mapping this process. It is argued that the lack of dialogue between organizational scholars and (business) historians is a missed opportunity since both disciplines have the business corporation as their subject and utilize common meta-thinkers. The ‘logics of history’ are explored and five intersections mapped where history would permit us to understand organizational change: (1) the use of retrospective knowledge, (2) process or narrative, (3) embeddedness in time and place (periodization), (4) historical actors’ experience (self-understanding, memory, narrative in constructing perception and identity), (5) historical alternatives, i.e., choice under conditions of ambiguity and an unknown, as yet unmade, future. Historians’ methodology can uncover the role of timing, sequence, behavior, and alternative paths that formed organizations’ present.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Fear, Professor Jeffrey
Authors: Fear, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Economic and Social History
Publisher:Oxford University Press

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