The journey of organizational unlearning: a conversation with William H. Starbuck
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionLearning Organization. 2017, 24 (1), 58-66. 10.1108/TLO-11-2016-0076
Purpose – This paper provides an overview of the concept organizational unlearning and its development since it was first introduced to the management literature, and presents a useful perspective that can help to advance the conceptual development of this topic. Design/methodology/approach – Through a conversation with celebrated scholar William H. Starbuck, the paper discusses several topics that are still up for debate in the organizational unlearning literature, and argues for a number of viewpoints relevant to the application of this concept. Findings – Unlearning is an important requirement for organizational learning and adaptation. Change cannot occur in organizations until old knowledge and practices are replaced by new ideas and methods. Researchers and managers should pay attention to the distinction between individual behavior and organizational behavior regarding unlearning. Originality/value – The discussion of the contested topics of unlearning and its implications for organizational learning and adaptation will be of value to academic researchers as well as managers working in a context of environment change.