Collaborative Strategic Improvement through Network Action Learning
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Collaborative Strategic Improvement through Network Action Learning The Path to Sustainability

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 11: Action Learning Research in Inter-organizational Settings

Paul Coughlan and David Coghlan


11. Action learning research in interorganizational settings INTRODUCTION This chapter has two identities: the bonus track at the end of the CD and the ugly duckling. Common to these two identities is the contention that there is no particular reason why this chapter should appear at all. However, as we came to the end of this book on sustainable strategic improvement through network action learning, we realized that an argument could be made for the research potential of action learning; that, maybe, it was an ugly duckling and could provide a firm basis for a form of inquiry that adds unexpectedly to theory as well as to practice. From the outset, we have based the book solidly on managerial initiatives in two different settings where the problem was to transition from a strategic to a learning and transformational network. Action learning characterized both sets of initiatives and formed a basis for sustainable strategic improvement in the settings – that is the generation of actionable knowledge that was useful to the practitioner community. However useful, there is more to these initiatives than merely the generation of usable knowledge for practitioners. There is also clear potential to generate situational knowledge that is theoretically robust and useful for the research community. In our development of the book, we have demonstrated and realized this latter potential. Here, our contributions are to three theoretical domains: operations management, organizational learning and action learning. Rather than to repeat what we have spent the previous chapters presenting, the key...

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