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Co‐creating learning: insights from complexity theory

Darshan A. Desai (Adjunct Assistant Professor, Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York, New York, USA and Graduate School of Business, Touro College, New York, New York, USA)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 20 July 2010




Recent advances in the interactive technologies have transformed the way today's organizations and their different stakeholders learn. Now, because of the increasing learning requirements, neither these organizations nor their stakeholders can afford to be too self‐focused while learning; instead, they collaborate and learn together. Existing theories of learning are not sufficient to explain this complex learning “co‐creation”. Therefore, this paper aims to explore how different actors of a value network co‐create emergent creativity, learning and adaptability in the presence of imposed administrative control and coordination.


The approach adopted in the paper draws on human complex adaptive systems (CAS) perspectives.


Within the value networks, the emergent and informal constraints imposed by interdependent relationships coexist with the imposed administrative controls. Despite being valuable for planning and coordination, these administrative controls do not foster learning co‐creation, while, within the value networks, the informal emergent dynamics imposed by interdependent relationships, i.e. adaptive leadership, are crucial for co‐creation of emergent learning and creativity. An organization can enable leaders who foster co‐creation of learning, creativity and adaptability; and the interactive technologies boost the adaptive and enabling leadership and support the co‐creation of learning, creativity and adaptability within the value networks.


The research represents the first effort to explore learning “co‐creation” within a value network.



Desai, D.A. (2010), "Co‐creating learning: insights from complexity theory", The Learning Organization, Vol. 17 No. 5, pp. 388-403.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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