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Book part
Publication date: 19 August 2015

Tieying Yu and Mary Ann Glynn

Although two decades have passed since the publication of Walsh and Ungson’s (1991) seminal article on organizational memory, there has been only limited theoretical…

Abstract

Although two decades have passed since the publication of Walsh and Ungson’s (1991) seminal article on organizational memory, there has been only limited theoretical elaboration and application of this critical aspect of cognition in the strategic management literature. We remedy this gap by advancing the construct of competitive memory, which we define as a firm’s dynamic capability consisting of stored information from its past competitive interaction with a given rival that can be brought to bear on present or future competitive actions. We theorize that competitive memory is composed of both procedural and declarative elements and can be accessed automatically and deliberatively. Additionally, we suggest that competitive memory is relational: As rivals within a competitive set interact in the market, competitive memory drives not only their strategic actions, but also their expectations about their competitors. Last, competitive memory is also dynamic, which can be constructed and reconstructed over time by an organization’s enactment of its internal and external environments and by purposive memory trials with its competitive set.

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Cognition and Strategy
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-946-2

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Article
Publication date: 13 September 2011

Annette H. Dunham and Christopher D.B. Burt

The aim of this paper is to test a model of the relationship between organizational memory and empowerment. The model posited that organizational memory would be related

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3447

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to test a model of the relationship between organizational memory and empowerment. The model posited that organizational memory would be related to requests to share knowledge, psychological empowerment in the workplace (meaning, competence, self‐determination and impact), and organization‐based self‐esteem.

Design/methodology/approach

The model was tested with 134 employees representing six companies using hierarchical regression analysis.

Findings

Significant relationships were found between organizational memory and requests to share knowledge, empowerment, and organization‐based self‐esteem. Findings indicated that a positive stereotype may exist towards older workers and the frequency they are requested to share knowledge, and that a halo‐type effect may operate, where knowledge of an organization's history is generalized to other knowledge domains.

Research limitations/implications

Causal implications cannot be made as this was correlational research. Some of the research measures while achieving acceptable to good reliability were in an early development stage. The study utilized a convenience sample that may limit how the results can be generalized.

Practical implications

The paper indicates that organizations can emphasize positive outcomes for those who are knowledge repositories and mentors. It is also important to consider possible “positive stereotypes” which may be operating when organizational members evaluate older workers as knowledge repositories and mentors.

Originality/value

The paper addresses the assumptions in the human resources literature concerning the role of older workers as repositories of organizational memory and suitable mentors. The study introduces the “requests to share knowledge scale”.

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Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 15 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2003

Jeong Eun Park and Michele D. Bunn

Although there is increasing interest in the organizational learning process appearing in the marketing literature, there is relatively little research that relates these…

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4488

Abstract

Although there is increasing interest in the organizational learning process appearing in the marketing literature, there is relatively little research that relates these concepts to the organizational buying process. In particular, the concepts involving organizational memory may provide a new perspective on the information search activities of organizational buyers. We provide a brief background on organizational memory and propose a conceptual framework to delineate key variables and relationships. Using two company case studies, we provide examples of eight buying situations defined by differing levels of complexity, physical memory, and cognitive memory and discuss the implications for information search and the type of judgment used.

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Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 18 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 3 February 2012

Ali E. Akgün, Halit Keskin and John Byrne

As a fascinating concept, the term of organizational memory attracted many researchers from a variety of disciplines. In particular, the content of organizational memory

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2421

Abstract

Purpose

As a fascinating concept, the term of organizational memory attracted many researchers from a variety of disciplines. In particular, the content of organizational memory, which involves declarative and procedural memory, found broad research interest in the management literature. Nevertheless, there is sparse research in the management literature on the emotional content aspect of organizational memory. Emotional memory is a less obvious aspect of the organizational memory and should be conceptualized, defined and investigated to enhance the literature on the organizational memory. The purpose of this study is to: define and establish the characteristics of organizational emotional memory; discuss the process of emotional memory in organizations such as how emotional memory can be developed and retrieved, and where it can be stored in organizations; and develop arguments regarding the roles of emotional memory in organizations to enhance the current theory on organizational memory.

Design/methodology/approach

This study reviews a variety of literature on the organizational memory and emotions.

Findings

This study demonstrated that emotional memory of organizations influences their routines, beliefs and procedures, and management should consider the past emotional experience of organizations to be more innovative.

Practical implications

By introducing the emotional memory process in organizations, this study helps managers to control, regulate or manipulate the recollections of past emotional events to perform effectively.

Originality/value

This study offers a contribution to the management literature by identifying the emotional memory concept and its processes, and presenting a model of interrelationships among emotional memory, declarative and procedural memory. In particular, this study adds new insight to the literature on the emotional life of organizations and offers literature a tool for both understanding and theorizing about emotion in organizations by making emotional memory concept explicit in a multidisciplinary understanding of organizational phenomena, and by providing a framework to clarify how we might conceptualize emotional memory.

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Management Decision, vol. 50 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2000

J. Martin Corbett

In their review of research on organisational memory, Walsh and Ungson argue that the extant representations of the concept are fragmented and underdeveloped. It is argued…

Abstract

In their review of research on organisational memory, Walsh and Ungson argue that the extant representations of the concept are fragmented and underdeveloped. It is argued that this is due, at least in part, to the dominance of psychological models of memory based on the individual which are employed by organisational memory system designers. In this article it is argued that the development of a more social psychological theory of memory not only helps us understand the roots of the present confusion surrounding the concept of organisational memory, but it also enables the development of a more coherent theoretical model to guide research on the transformational effects of computer‐based information systems on organisational memory.

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Information Technology & People, vol. 13 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 1999

Jacqueline van der Bent, Jaap Paauwe and Roger Williams

Researchers and practitioners have shown a great deal of interest in the topic of organizational learning in the last two decades. The key dilemma, however, remains…

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4091

Abstract

Researchers and practitioners have shown a great deal of interest in the topic of organizational learning in the last two decades. The key dilemma, however, remains whether organizations as entities can do anything in their own right. Is it meaningful to think of organizations as having objectives, learning abilities, and memories, or do organizations only learn through their current members? The aim of this study is to shed light on what organizational memory is and what role it plays during organizational change. We report the findings of a study on organizational memory and learning in a large electronics firm. Using a variety of research methods we analyze mutations in organizational memory traces over a long period of time and discuss whether or not an organization can learn from previous change experiences, encapsulated in organizational memory traces, as it goes through a different, but related, change program. Finally, implications of this study for change management are described.

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Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 12 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

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Article
Publication date: 8 April 2014

Annette Dunham and Christopher Burt

The aim of this study is to develop a psychometrically sound self-report scale of organizational memory. The scale is planned for use in future research to test the…

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1302

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study is to develop a psychometrically sound self-report scale of organizational memory. The scale is planned for use in future research to test the relationship between what employees know and their attitudes to passing on their knowledge.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 72 organizational memory scale items representing six hypothesised dimensions of organizational memory were developed and tested with 143 participants using exploratory factor analysis. The resulting five-factor model was tested with a further sample of 288 employees using structural equation modelling, and the test-retest reliability was examined.

Findings

Five factors of the organizational memory scale were identified. These were: socio-political knowledge, job knowledge, external network, history, and industry knowledge. The dimensions correlated with tenure variables often used as proxies for experience. Structural equation modelling confirmed the five-factor model and the scale achieved adequate test-retest reliability.

Research limitations/implications

The five organizational memory factors are not an exhaustive list. While the scale enables employees to evaluate their own organizational memory, it may not necessarily be an accurate indicator of their knowledge.

Practical implications

The scale can be used as a knowledge audit instrument for examining attitudes to mentoring and knowledge sharing, as well as for auditing knowledge that may potentially be lost when experienced employees leave organizations.

Originality/value

The scale is a valid and reliable self-report measure of organizational memory. It is an innovative tool for examining employee attitudes to knowledge sharing initiatives. The scale also recognises the contribution made to organizational memory by those with industry knowledge outside the organization.

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The Learning Organization, vol. 21 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1996

Mark S. Ackerman

Describes how organizations looking to augment their memories through information technologies can employ an organizational memory system. Organizational and group memories

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852

Abstract

Describes how organizations looking to augment their memories through information technologies can employ an organizational memory system. Organizational and group memories can include a wide variety of materials, including documents, rationales for decisions, formal descriptions of procedures, and so on. Discusses findings from case studies of six organizations using or attempting to use the Answer Garden, a type of organizational memory system. Examines two major issues in the implementation of such systems: the gap between the idealized definition of organizational memory and the constrained realities of organizational life; and the effects of reducing contextual information in computer‐based memory. Suggests some avenues for managing these issues as well as for further technical and organizational research.

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Information Technology & People, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-3845

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2001

Eveline Van Stijn and Anthony Wensley

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems not only have a broad functional scope promising to support many different business processes, they also embed many different…

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2844

Abstract

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems not only have a broad functional scope promising to support many different business processes, they also embed many different aspects of the company’s organizational memory. Disparities can exist between those memory contents in the ERP system and related contents in other memory media, such as individuals’ memories, and the organizational structure and culture. It is our contention that, in general, these disparities or memory mismatches, as we will refer to them, lead to under‐performance of ERP systems. In this paper we focus on potential memory mismatches that may arise with respect to the embedding of process knowledge within ERP packages. Packages such as SAP provide a varied and rich environment for process modeling. However, we suspect that there are still many instances where process knowledge is either lost or represented in different ways in different parts of the organization. As we will discuss, the results of such memory mismatches will often not become evident until the system is in use. The overall thrust of the paper is to identify a variety of concerns, intriguing questions and avenues for future research.

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Business Process Management Journal, vol. 7 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-7154

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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2010

Kaj U. Koskinen

The purpose of this paper is to describe project‐based companies' knowledge production and memory development with the help of autopoietic epistemology.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe project‐based companies' knowledge production and memory development with the help of autopoietic epistemology.

Design/methodology/approach

The discussion first defines the concept of a project‐based company. Then the discussion deals with the two epistemological assumptions, namely cognitivist and autopoietic epistemological assumptions. After that there follows an illustration of the concept of organisational memory. The main content of this article follows – namely the study on the autopoietic knowledge production and organisational memory development in the context of project‐based companies.

Findings

Knowledge production in a project‐based company means that an individual team member, a project team and a project‐based company itself produce knowledge consistent with currently shared knowledge. That is, a project‐based company's accumulation of organisational memory at various organisational levels is an expression of change in knowledge that always maintains compatibility between the autopoietic system (i.e. team member, project team or project‐based company) and its environment.

Originality/value

The current theories about knowledge production and organisational memory development in project‐based companies are largely based on the idea of codability and transferability of knowledge between the people and across the borders. This type of thinking is based on the traditional cognitivist epistemology that means that knowledge represents external reality. The new autopoietic approach suggests transition from these theories to the theory of knowledge production as a creational matter, which type of thinking can potentially provide a new explanation for project‐based company's organisational memory.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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