Collaborative Strategic Improvement through Network Action Learning
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Collaborative Strategic Improvement through Network Action Learning

The Path to Sustainability

Paul Coughlan and David Coghlan

Improvement is fundamental to the competitiveness of networks and requires the participating firms to collaborate in identifying and introducing changes. This book presents collaborative strategic improvement as a cycle of activities in which firms in a network can engage together. Drawing on actual cases, authors link this cycle with disciplined action learning as a means of building upon experience generated through collaborative action. They describe how a network can learn from experience and deploy that learning in the marketplace.
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Chapter 3: Learning in and Between Organizations

Paul Coughlan and David Coghlan


In the previous chapter we introduced collaborative strategic improvement and discussed how it is, in essence, a process of learning, whereby problems are identified, and solutions are created, analysed, selected and implemented. The result is seen, not only in improved operational performance, but also in improved capability. A firm with an improved capability is an organization that has learned. Similarly, a firm that can learn has the capability to improve. Likewise, an EME with an improved capability is a network that has learned and can continue to learn. The ability to co-direct, to co-develop and to co-deploy such learning is at the heart of sustainability. In this chapter, we deepen our understanding of learning in organizations and networks as we explore the notions of organizational, interorganizational and network learning in order to add to the underpinning of our concept of collaborative strategic improvement as a contributor to sustainability. We focus on five themes: different types of network; learning mechanisms required for these networks to learn successfully; the systemic relationship between individual, group and inter-group learning in organizational and inter-organizational learning; how inter-organizational learning involves processes at home and away; and, work-based social sustainability. First, however, we introduce some foundations. FOUNDATIONS Organizational learning is the second of the three domains in which the book is located and to which it contributes – the other two being operations management and action learning. For our purposes, the organizational learning domain rests on the following foundations: 1. 2. 3. organizational learning as a capacity and...

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