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Abstract

Purpose

The paper extends the organizational learning framework: Structural-Functional (SF)-single-loop or Conflictual-Radical (CR)-double-loop learning to the management accounting literature. The sociological approach of organizational learning is utilized to understand those contingent factors that can explain why management accounting innovations succeed or fail in organizations.

Approach

We view learning as enhancing an organization’s strategic competitive advantage by making it better able to adopt and diffuse innovation in respond to changes in its environment in order to manage improved performance. The success of management accounting innovations is contingent upon whether its learning process involves SF-single-loop or CR-double-loop learning to adopt and diffuse process innovation.

Findings

The paper suggests that the learning strategy that the organization chooses is the reason why some management accounting innovations are more successfully adopted than others and why some innovations are easily diffused in some organizations but not in others. We propose that the sociological approaches to learning provide an alternative framework with which to better understand the adoption and diffusion of process innovations in management accounting systems.

Originality

It has become evident that management accounting researchers need to pay particular attention to an organization’s approach to adoption and diffusion of innovation strategies, particularly when they are designing and implementing process innovation programs for an organization. According to Schulz (2001), there are two interrelated stages of the learning that can shape the outcome of the innovation process in an organization. The first stage is related to the acquisition/production (adoption) of knowledge that results in gathering information, codification, and exploration. This is followed by the second stage which is the distribution or dissemination (diffusion) processes. When these two stages – adoption and diffusion – are applied within an accounting context, they address issues that are commonly associated with the successes and/or failures of management accounting innovations.

Research limitations/implications

Although innovation involves learning, the nature of the learning process does not completely describe the manner in which an innovation affects the organization. Accordingly, we suggest that the two interrelated organizational sociological dimensions of innovations processes, namely, (1) the adoption and diffusion theories of Rogers (1971 and 1995), to approach organizational learning, and (2) the SF (single loop) and CR (double loop) approaches to learning be used simultaneously to describe management accounting innovations.

Practical implications

When an innovation is implemented, it initially can be introduced as an incremental change, one that can be limited in both in its scope and its breadth of administrative changes. This means that situations which are most likely to benefit from its initiation can serve as the prototype for its adoption by the organization. If successful, this can be followed by systemic accounting innovations to instituting broader administrative changes within the existing accounting reporting and control systems.

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Article

Deborah Blackman, James Connelly and Steven Henderson

This paper addresses doubts concerning the reliability of knowledge being created by double loop learning processes. Popper's ontological worlds are used to explore the…

Abstract

This paper addresses doubts concerning the reliability of knowledge being created by double loop learning processes. Popper's ontological worlds are used to explore the philosophical basis of the way that individual experiences are turned into organisational knowledge, and such knowledge is used to generate organisational learning. The paper suggests that double loop learning may frequently create mistakes and fail to detect possible interesting lines of thought. Popper's work is used to suggest some solutions and an elaboration of the double loop learning process, but ultimately effective organisational learning is shown to depend on the undertaking of an epistemological burden by individuals above and beyond what is usually explicated in prescriptions for learning organisation and knowledge management.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article

Victor J. García‐Morales, Antonio J. Verdú‐Jover and Francisco Javier Lloréns

The purpose of this paper is to take an in‐depth look at the differences in learning based on the nature of the process, analysing the influence of CEO perceptions of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to take an in‐depth look at the differences in learning based on the nature of the process, analysing the influence of CEO perceptions of personal mastery, shared vision, environment and strategic proactivity on the learning level.

Design/methodology/approach

This investigation drew up a structured questionnaire to better understand how CEOs face learning issues. A series of χ2, t‐tests, Harman's one‐factor tests, correlations, and regression analyses were used. The hypotheses are tested using data from 239 firms located in Spain.

Findings

This investigation shows the influence of CEO perceptions of several strategic factors and capabilities (personal mastery, shared vision, environment and strategic proactivity) in single‐ and double‐loop learning and the influence of this learning level on organizational innovation and performance. It adds theoretical and empirical arguments to the two main learning levels in the literature.

Originality/value

The research provides empirical evidence that: personal mastery and a stable environment have a positive and significant impact on the generation of single‐loop learning; personal mastery, shared vision, ambiguous environment and strategic proactivity have a positive and significant influence on the generation of double‐loop learning; and both learning levels affect the generation of greater organizational innovation and performance.

Details

International Journal of Manpower, vol. 30 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7720

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Book part

Seleshi Sisaye

Accounting for quality and improved organizational performance has recently received attention in management control research. However, the extent to which process…

Abstract

Accounting for quality and improved organizational performance has recently received attention in management control research. However, the extent to which process innovation changes have been integrated into management control research is limited. This paper contributes to that integration by drawing from institutional adaptive theory of organizational change and process innovation strategies. The paper utilizes a 2 by 2 contingency table that uses two factors: environmental conditions and organizational change/learning strategies, to build a process innovation framework. A combination of these two factors yields four process innovation strategies: mechanistic, organic, organizational development (OD) and organizational transformation (OT).

The four process innovation typologies are applied to characterize innovations in accounting such as activity based costing (ABC). ABC has been discussed as a multi-phased innovation process that provides an environment where both the initiation and the implementation of accounting change can occur. Technical innovation can be successfully initiated as organic innovation that unfolds in a decentralized organization and requires radical change and double loop learning. Implementation occurs best as a mechanistic innovation in a hierarchical organization and involving incremental change and single loop learning. The paper concludes that if ABC is integrated into an OD or OT intervention strategy, the technical and administrative innovation aspects of ABC can be utilized to manage the organization’s operating activities.

Details

Advances in Management Accounting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-207-8

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Article

Seleshi Sisaye and Jacob G. Birnberg

The purpose of this paper is to apply the organizational learning framework to the management accounting literature to better understand why management accounting…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to apply the organizational learning framework to the management accounting literature to better understand why management accounting innovations succeed or fail in organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

A theoretical framework integrating diffusion and organization learning theories is developed. Diffusion theory is used to describe the process whereby the innovation is implemented. Argyris' and Argyris and Schon's theory of organizational learning is used to describe the type of learning – single loop or double loop – required by the innovation. Finally, the works of Attewell, and of Schulz relating to organizational learning, and of Rogers and of Sandberg relating to adoption and diffusion theories, were utilized to identify and understand the potential pitfalls faced by managements implementing an accounting innovation.

Findings

The paper advances the notion that an organization's approach to learning and innovation should be of interest to management accounting researchers. The single‐loop (incremental/organizational development (OD)) and the double‐loop (radical/organizational transformation (OT)) learning influences the adoption (stage one) and diffusion (stage two) strategies that are appropriate for the design and implementation of management accounting innovations.

Originality/value

The paper makes an important contribution to the behavioral accounting literature by integrating sociological diffusion and organizational learning behavior literatures and relating them to management accounting research.

Details

Review of Accounting and Finance, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1475-7702

Keywords

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Article

Bernard L. Simonin

Through a survey of firm’s experiences with strategic alliances and a structural equation modeling approach, the aim of this study is to stimulate further interest in…

Abstract

Purpose

Through a survey of firm’s experiences with strategic alliances and a structural equation modeling approach, the aim of this study is to stimulate further interest in modeling and empirical research in the area of N-loop learning. Although the concepts of single-loop and double-loop learning, in particular, are well established in the literature, limited research has been directed toward their empirical validation and finer understanding.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a large sample of technology firms, a MIMIC model is proposed and tested with respect to the development of collaborative know-how via the adoption and conduct of different structural choices on how to deploy strategic alliances (single-loop vs double-loop approach). Results are cross-validated.

Findings

Based on the results of two structural equation models, the findings support the fit of the proposed conceptual model and the notion that, overall, the greater the extent of double-loop over single-loop learning, the higher the level of collaborative know-how derived.

Originality/value

The call for the empirical investigation of N-loop learning is met by providing an example of survey-based research. The possible benefits of “double-loop” over “single-loop” learning are modeled and tested empirically.

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Book part

Christopher Williams and Maya Kumar

We use experiential learning theory to develop new conceptual insights into offshore outsourcing of innovation. In particular, we show how offshore vendor firms are able…

Abstract

We use experiential learning theory to develop new conceptual insights into offshore outsourcing of innovation. In particular, we show how offshore vendor firms are able to overcome liability of outsidership and eventually learn how to innovate on behalf of their onshore clients as a result of their embedment with clients across multiple teams. We theorize that the cross-border relocation of innovative activities from a client firm to an offshore vendor is only possible when teams within the vendor team have assumed a double-loop learning capability from the client allowing them to determine governing variables relating to the client’s organizational environment. Through direct on-the-job experience working with each other, international teams comprised in part from the vendor and in part from the client can undergo different learning transitions, which we classify as either relationship-oriented or task-oriented. These transitions determine the extent to which double-loop learning can be developed in offshore locations and are influenced by intra-team dynamics and the way the joint teams organize and manage themselves. Our perspective has implications for our understanding of organizational designs associated with both client and vendor multinational enterprises seeking to benefit from innovation in offshore outsourcing.

Details

Orchestration of the Global Network Organization
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78350-953-9

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Article

Yueh Chuen Huang and Hui‐Chuan Shih

This is a case study paper. A major research goal of this study is to extend the existing theories of learning organization put forth in the 4I model by adding more…

Abstract

Purpose

This is a case study paper. A major research goal of this study is to extend the existing theories of learning organization put forth in the 4I model by adding more complicated ideas to it. One minor goal of this research is to show that the first stage of organizational learning, “intuiting”, is the hardest to implement when starting a learning organization. Particular attention should be paid to this step, and with the addition of adult learning theory, the possibility of facing a negative situation should be reduced. A second less important goal is to explain how to assess organizational learning, and how the flow of single‐ and double‐loop learning takes place within a learning organization.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopted a combination of qualitative and quantitative survey methods to study the effectiveness of the new mode of transformational activity practiced in Firm A.

Findings

Statistical evidence showed that the practice was successful. It solved the issue that expertise and top managers mostly protest against learning.

Originality/value

This paper brings a new and more adaptive perspective for building a learning organization upon existing organizational learning theories. Through this case study, the integration and transformation from tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge, intuition to institution (the 4i model), and individual level to organizational level are illustrated. The practices of single‐loop and double‐loop learning are also well depicted by this study.

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Book part

Mark Simon, Susan M. Houghton and G.T. Lumpkin

The entrepreneurs’ ability to identify opportunities can lead to wealth creation and competitive advantage. Often, however, opportunities that are innovative may defy…

Abstract

The entrepreneurs’ ability to identify opportunities can lead to wealth creation and competitive advantage. Often, however, opportunities that are innovative may defy up-front analysis suggesting that the entrepreneurs may have had somewhat inaccurate perceptions and need to refine their ideas after the ventures are started. This paper therefore focuses on mitigating the negative impact of early misperceptions through the use of learning-oriented information processing systems to refine opportunities post starting a venture. Specifically, it suggests that an experienced and heterogeneous top management team and a decentralized, organic structure enhance the system's ability to gain knowledge from acting on early misperceptions and may even form the basis for a distinctive capability that leads to competitive advantage.

Details

Entrepreneurial Strategic Processes
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-7623-1429-4

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Article

Sabine Lauer and Uwe Wilkesmann

The purpose of this paper is to link two modes of governance (transactional and transformational) to organizational learning by examining the example of academic teaching…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to link two modes of governance (transactional and transformational) to organizational learning by examining the example of academic teaching. Consequently, the “transformational” strategies of best practices that have been used by German universities to achieve teaching excellence are interpreted as double-loop learning. In delineating two exemplary cases of double-loop learning concerning the university-wide implementation of a new teaching formats as part their institutional strategies to develop teaching excellence, the authors want to answer the following research question: Which kind of governance is required to manage double-loop learning processes?

Design/methodology/approach

The purposive sample comprised four universities that had won awards for their teaching excellence. In 2014, a total of 21 semi-structured expert interviews were conducted in these universities within the following status groups: members of the rectorate, full professors, and university management professionals. The coding procedure followed a directed content analysis.

Findings

Both forms of governance are required for the management of double-loop learning. In the case of a top-down instigation of organizational learning, transformational governance is especially required in terms of idealized influence and inspirational motivation. In the case of a more bottom-up trigger of organizational learning, intellectual stimulation becomes more important. Transactional governance is required for the university-wide implementation of new routines (e.g. a mandatory quality management tool, obligatory coaching for newly appointed professors or competitive teaching grants).

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the empirical research on organizational learning in higher education institutions by adding a governance perspective.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 24 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

Keywords

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