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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2000

Steven A. Cavaleri and David S. Fearon

Organizational learning is a process that is naturally indigenous to a broad spectrum of organizations, such as tribes and extended families. In the course of history…

Abstract

Organizational learning is a process that is naturally indigenous to a broad spectrum of organizations, such as tribes and extended families. In the course of history, modern organizations have often evolved in a direction that emphasizes the machine‐like qualities of organizations and diminishes the importance of natural processes. While the importance of organizational learning for innovation and competitiveness is widely acknowledged, it often becomes relegated to being a cumbersome adjunct to existing mechanical processes, rather than serving as an integral element of an organization’s core processes. In this article, we propose that project management structures provide a natural home for organizational learning. A model is developed that explains how organizations can benefit from the potential synergies that result when organizational learning and project management become integrated together.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 7 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 1991

Steven A. Cavaleri and Ray DeCormier

Organisations must adapt to change more rapidly than ever, withfewer managers. Practical leadership tools for fast‐paced“on‐the‐fly” interactions are not widely available…

Abstract

Organisations must adapt to change more rapidly than ever, with fewer managers. Practical leadership tools for fast‐paced “on‐the‐fly” interactions are not widely available. The Microskills System provides a model for leading which permits leaders to employ simple skills in various combinations to fit the needs of the dynamic situations which they encounter.

Details

Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 12 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7739

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Article
Publication date: 19 July 2011

Chester S. Labedz, Steven A. Cavaleri and Gregory R. Berry

This paper aims to critically examine through a knowledge management lens the existing “art” of public policy making, suggesting instead an approach intended to improve

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to critically examine through a knowledge management lens the existing “art” of public policy making, suggesting instead an approach intended to improve knowledge processes and reduce unintended injurious consequences of legislating.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on pragmatic philosophy and limited government precedents, the authors identify and recommend the implementation of a prospective legislative impact statement requirement by and for the U.S. Congress. They suggest the development and the potential KM utility of the PLIS based on a brief case study of the 2009 American “cash for clunkers” incentive program.

Findings

The authors conclude that development and application of such prospective legislative impact statements is feasible and that they may support the statement and testing of dynamic hypotheses relating to the prospective effects of policies under government consideration.

Research limitations/implications

Pragmatic knowledge‐based scholarship is extended by integrating system dynamics and adaptive management approaches, and it acquires prominent governance relevance through this research.

Practical implications

Rigorous integrative government consideration of pending legislation, and ongoing assessment of consequences of enacted laws, could be systematized under this proposal.

Social implications

PLIS requirement extends knowledge process over the legislating process, thereby tempering current “legislative art” practices and wisely benefiting the polity.

Originality/value

This paper offers a practical solution to a wicked KM problem: improving the quality of knowledge in non‐hierarchical policy‐making groups, especially those in government.

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 15 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 19 September 2008

Steven A. Cavaleri

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the future prospects of the popular concept known as the learning organization; to trace the influence of philosophical pragmatism…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the future prospects of the popular concept known as the learning organization; to trace the influence of philosophical pragmatism on the learning organization and to consider its potential impact on the future; and to emphasize how pragmatic theories have shaped the development of Deming's total quality management approach and Toyota's lean manufacturing system.

Design/methodology/approach

The concepts presented are mainly built on a historical analysis of various theories of philosophical pragmatism and organizational management. These theories are contrasted with state‐of‐the‐art practices used in business.

Findings

Many organizational learning theories are rooted in philosophical pragmatism, yet these models often only borrow small pieces from a larger, more systemic framework. It is argued here that this truncated use of such principles causes unintended consequences and general ineffectiveness.

Originality/value

The value is to see the evolution of theories of learning organizations in terms of many of the unstated assumptions that serve as a foundation.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 15 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2004

Steven A. Cavaleri

This article examines the alignment and fit between knowledge management and organizational learning to determine the potential feasibility of integrating the two…

Abstract

This article examines the alignment and fit between knowledge management and organizational learning to determine the potential feasibility of integrating the two approaches. The philosophical roots of both disciplines are traced to common ground in a philosophy known as “pragmatism”. Early generation forms of knowledge management are critiqued and a new more pragmatic version is proposed – one that is compatible with organizational learning. A new form of alignment between organizational learning and knowledge management is proposed.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 11 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2004

Steven A. Cavaleri

Knowledge management continues to evolve as a discipline, yet even basic features that define a discipline have to be established. Developing a shared understanding of…

Abstract

Knowledge management continues to evolve as a discipline, yet even basic features that define a discipline have to be established. Developing a shared understanding of core concepts, such as the meaning of “knowledge”, has been elusive in this field. In the absence of reaching a universal definition, surrogates for knowledge are adopted because of their expediency or apparent face validity. To date, most knowledge management approaches err on the extremes of being seemingly practical or, on the other hand, being theoretically appealing, but few of these approaches are genuinely pragmatic. At one end, there are mechanistic, information‐based approaches that are actionable, but are often based on flawed philosophical grounds in that they fail to connect beliefs with action through knowledge. At the other extreme are approaches that are philosophically meritorious, but which are viewed by practitioners as being impractical because they are too fuzzy and their methods too unstructured. This paper proposes an approach to knowledge management that is based on firm philosophical grounding, but is also anchored to action via the tenets of pragmatism. This new framework for practicing knowledge management is based on the foundational premises of philosophical pragmatism established by America's greatest philosopher, Charles Sanders Peirce, over a century ago. Pragmatic knowledge aligns beliefs about the potential for effective action with the lessons of past experience. This paper will outline the conceptual underpinnings of such a pragmatic approach to managing knowledge.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 11 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2004

Frans M. van Eijnatten and Goran D. Putnik

The European Chaos and Complexity in Organizations Network (ECCON) held its Third Annual Meeting in Guimarães, Portugal, June 2003, at the very same spot where the First…

Abstract

The European Chaos and Complexity in Organizations Network (ECCON) held its Third Annual Meeting in Guimarães, Portugal, June 2003, at the very same spot where the First Business Excellence conference was organized. As an outcome of that meeting, this TLO special brings together six ECCON members around the theme of “Chaordic Systems Thinking” (CST), a “new science” lens based in chaos and complexity. The CST framework will be presented, as well as some preliminary explorations into how it might inform a learning organization. Apart from the CST lens, the issue contains chaos‐and‐complexity concepts of learning and the learning organization, a dialogical conversation about the framework and some paper presenting empirical research findings.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 11 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 19 February 2018

Steven Cavaleri and Kareem Shabana

The purpose of this paper is to provide both theorists and practitioners with a conceptual framework that links sustainability strategies more closely with Porter’s…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide both theorists and practitioners with a conceptual framework that links sustainability strategies more closely with Porter’s generic strategies. The intent of this approach is to establish sustainability, fundamentally, as a strategic process. The proposed models set a strategic context to tie sustainability, to mediating variables, such as innovation and technology, while also linking them to generic strategies (low cost leader, differentiation, and focus) and firm financial performance in a causal chain. The proposed model gives rise to conclusions about the effectiveness of sustainability strategies that are consistent with emerging research about the role of radical innovation in sustainability.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper proposes two conceptual frameworks designed to link sustainability with business strategy. These models are rooted in evolving understandings of business strategy arising from Porter’s original explanations of generic strategies and sources of competitive advantage. The first model is a causal model that links drivers, such as type of competitive strategy and mode of innovation, to competitive outcomes and firm financial performance. The second model describes how different modes of technology development, in sustainability initiatives, cause changes in firm competitive and financial outcomes.

Findings

The conclusions arising from the model-based insights suggest that conventional continuous and incremental improvement sustainability practices hold the potential to pose strategic risks to some firms – depending on their core business strategy. By contrast, the model provides a logical, yet, less known, rationale that suggests radical innovation in sustainability practices may pose fewer strategic risks. It may also offer relatively more competitive and financial advantages than well-established programs relying on incremental innovation.

Research limitations/implications

Although the proposed conceptual frameworks are rooted in strategic management theories, the proposed models and expected outcomes have not yet been empirically tested or validated. However, initially, these models appear to have more face validity in explaining breakthrough sustainability success stories, such as Nike, than do competing explanations. Most importantly, the counter-intuitive finding that radical innovation is likely to be more effective in driving both sustainability and financial outcomes is a topic for future investigation.

Practical implications

The proposed models and accompanying rationale have direct implications for practitioners. They provide practitioners with a road map to logically and deductively frame sustainability strategies based on their current business strategy. Practitioners are often hindered by the lack of high-level guidance for making the transition from operationally focused sustainability tactics to strategies than are congruent with current business strategies. The current paradigm of using incremental sustainability strategies on an ad hoc basis does not always provide neutral outcomes regarding financial effects and competitive advantage – they may yield negative effects.

Social implications

The importance of sustainability strategies and management practices cannot be overstated. On a global scale, evidence indicates that most corporate sustainability programs are ineffective at slowing the rate of global forces offsetting sustainability. The proposed models and strategic management approach are intended to dramatically increase the effectiveness of sustainability improvement by closely aligning them with corporate strategies. Historically, companies have struggled to make the leap from randomly using eco-efficiency tools to making sustainability a key component of their business strategy.

Originality/value

This paper integrates a number of diverse lines of inquiry from the strategic management literature into a counter-intuitive approach for integrating sustainability into a firm’s core business strategy. The proposed conceptual frameworks can be used, prospectively, to design new sustainability strategies, or it can be used, analytically (retrospectively), to understand reasons for failure or under-performance in sustainability initiatives.

Details

Journal of Strategy and Management, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-425X

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Article
Publication date: 19 September 2008

Peter A.C. Smith

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the Special Issue; to provide a practitioner's retrospective views of the learning organization concept; and to comment on the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to introduce the Special Issue; to provide a practitioner's retrospective views of the learning organization concept; and to comment on the status of The Learning Organization journal.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach adopted involves recounting a personal history of a practitioner's experiences with the concept, and an observation on the health of The Learning Organization journal.

Findings

The paper finds that, although the learning organization concept is deemed narrow and out of date, it is judged to have had significant positive influence on organizational thinking. The Learning Organization is shown to be a healthy and popular journal.

Originality/value

The paper is included in a Special Issue that is part of the series commissioned by the journal on organization‐related topics of interest to its readers. Its originality stems from its examination of the learning organization concept through a particular practitioner's lens, provoking reflection amongst others engaged in both the delivery and the consumption of practice and study.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 15 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 25 January 2008

Steven Cavaleri and Fred Reed

The paper seeks to establish a critical role for leaders in guiding projects to higher levels of effectiveness. This role centers on using the thinking capacities…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper seeks to establish a critical role for leaders in guiding projects to higher levels of effectiveness. This role centers on using the thinking capacities associated with systems thinking, knowledge processing, action learning, and pragmatism. It is also to design systems to imbue these capacities into the operation of project teams.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents a case study, action‐research observations, and conceptual models. Actual case studies including a medium‐sized US manufacturer and a large shipyard.

Findings

This paper includes a section that presents research findings that suggest efforts by managers to improve profits actually reduced profit in the longer term due to erroneous learning and low‐quality knowledge.

Research limitations/implications

The research presented does not focus specifically on project teams, but rather on the interplay between project teams and the larger organizations of which they are part.

Practical implications

In certain industries, the performance track record of project teams for operating according to schedule and within budget is dismal. Such failures have been wrongly attributed to bad staffing, poor decision making, internal politics, or external forces. This paper proposes that the more common reasons for such failures are erroneous learning caused by misperceptions of dynamic feedback, low‐quality knowledge, imbalances among system elements, and failure to account for dynamics and time delays. An approach called project management system pragmatics is proposed for use by leaders as a way to improve the effectiveness of project teams.

Originality/value

This is the first approach to project management/leadership that offers practical ways for leaders to conceive of how to deal with the ambiguities posed by the dynamics of the complex systems many project teams operate within.

Details

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8378

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