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Building dynamic capabilities around organizational learning challenges

Scott A. Snell (Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, Charlotteville, Virginia, USA)
Shad S. Morris (Marriott School of Management, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA)

Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance

ISSN: 2051-6614

Article publication date: 2 September 2014




The knowledge that is embedded within people, relationships, and organizational routines present key, but varied, sources of capabilities needed to compete. The value of this knowledge depends on the investment costs and benefits that come as employees draw on and utilize these different forms of knowledge to respond to global challenges. But something as intangible as knowledge can be a major source of misunderstanding and mismanagement. The purpose of this paper is to develop a framework that explores the underlying path of how knowledge assets might be configured to overcome misunderstanding and mismanagement.


The authors develop a framework to help scholars and organizations understand how to manage their different knowledge assets to ensure continual organizational effectiveness. To do this, the authors juxtapose three classes of knowledge assets – human capital, social capital, and organizational capital – against three types of learning – knowledge generation, transfer, and application.


The framework the authors develop provides both theoretical and practical insight into how organizations can manage their knowledge assets to overcome learning challenges.

Practical implications

The framework helps understand how organizations might align learning with their strategic challenges. It is useful in helping organizations develop a better understanding of the costs and benefits of different knowledge-management interventions according to the nature of the task and the learning needs of their organizations. When firms are confronted with challenges that present a great deal of uncertainty and they are in need of knowledge generation, transfer, and/or application, the framework could help them to identify which assets to invest in as well as the potential benefits of the investments.


This paper is unique in that it provides a framework linking knowledge assets with organizational learning in a way that has not been done before. It also outlines specific human resource approaches to managing these different configurations.



A. Snell, S. and S. Morris, S. (2014), "Building dynamic capabilities around organizational learning challenges", Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 214-239.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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