Adm. Sci. 2013, 3(3), 32-52; doi:10.3390/admsci3030032
Article

Autonomy, Conformity and Organizational Learning

1 Aix Marseille University (Aix Marseille School of Economics), CNRS, EHESS and IUF. 2 Rue de la Charité, Marseille 13002, France 2 Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo. 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 May 2013; in revised form: 24 June 2013 / Accepted: 28 June 2013 / Published: 5 July 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Computational Organization Theory)
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Abstract: There is often said to be a tension between the two types of organizational learning activities, exploration and exploitation. The argument goes that the two activities are substitutes, competing for scarce resources when firms need different capabilities and management policies. We present another explanation, attributing the tension to the dynamic interactions among search, knowledge sharing, evaluation and alignment within organizations. Our results show that successful organizations tend to bifurcate into two types: those that always promote individual initiatives and build organizational strengths on individual learning and those good at assimilating the individual knowledge base and exploiting shared knowledge. Straddling the two types often fails. The intuition is that an equal mixture of individual search and assimilation slows down individual learning, while at the same time making it difficult to update organizational knowledge because individuals’ knowledge base is not sufficiently homogenized. Straddling is especially inefficient when the operation is sufficiently complex or when the business environment is sufficiently turbulent.
Keywords: organizational learning; exploration; exploitation; complexity; turbulence; NK landscape; ambidexterity

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hanaki, N.; Owan, H. Autonomy, Conformity and Organizational Learning. Adm. Sci. 2013, 3, 32-52.

AMA Style

Hanaki N, Owan H. Autonomy, Conformity and Organizational Learning. Administrative Sciences. 2013; 3(3):32-52.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hanaki, Nobuyuki; Owan, Hideo. 2013. "Autonomy, Conformity and Organizational Learning." Adm. Sci. 3, no. 3: 32-52.

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