A Knowledge Perspective on Needs to Enhance Organizational Learning

Publikation: AbschlussarbeitDissertation

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Organizational learning causes organizational change. Different descriptive models have been proposed, but little research on variables influencing these processes has been done.
Needs govern our behavior and motivate our acting. It has been shown that their identification and satisfaction effect value-creating and knowledge-intensive activities, such as innovation processes, strategy development, and product design. However, needs are usually implicitly anchored in organizations and people can hardly articulate them. Despite the fact that a focus on needs does not prescribe any concrete strategy, but extends opportunities to act, an initial consideration of needs often lacks. Consequently, their role as an influencing variable for organizational learning has not been investigated yet.
Addressing this gap, this dissertation explores the nature of needs and how they can enhance organizational learning processes. It introduces a novel theory on needs for organizational practice which emphasizes the potential of a focus on needs. It argues why considering needs is beneficial for learning initiatives, such as vision or strategy development, in which various expectations which presumably emerge from shared needs have to be combined. Shared needs within a social system can trigger organizational learning and facilitate the design of new consensual satisfaction strategies (satisfiers).
The theory allows for understanding the motivational forces of organizational learning and exploiting the postulated one-to-many relation between needs and satisfiers. Moreover, it points at influencing variables for the organizational transition from needs to need satisfaction and illustrates that by a knowledge perspective resulting in the concept of "need-based solution knowledge". This knowledge enables people to propose viable satisfiers in organizations. We introduce the methodological framework "Bewextra" that targets at the capacity to identify needs in organizations. It rests upon theories from various scientific fields and utilizes "learning from an envisioned future" as a core method. This enables to literally envision a desired future scenario in which all needs are intuitively fulfilled, and thereby allows for the creation of knowledge about needs.
The research follows the action research paradigm which proposes a combinational interplay between rational and empirical research processes, in which various (qualitative) research methods are used. Besides theoretical considerations, the dissertation reports about four research projects in which the theories and methods were applied, reflected, and refined. More specifically, it presents how "Bewextra" was implemented and adjusted and demonstrates that a combination of conventional learning from the past and "learning from an envisioned future" enhances the outcome of organizational learning in various domains. Moreover, it investigates the differences between organizational strategies, that emerge with reference to needs, and strategies, that are developed without explicitly considering needs.
Gradverleihende Hochschule
  • Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2017

Österreichische Systematik der Wissenschaftszweige (ÖFOS)

  • 509018 Wissensmanagement