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In his 1991 paper on exploration and exploitation in organizational
learning, James G. March has elaborated a simple model of the
development and diffusion of organizational knowledge. This is based on
the idea that mutual learning can occur in organizations in such a way that
individual beliefs are shaping the organizational code while at the same
time the latter is adapting to the former.
Although March assumes that individuals are updating their beliefs because
of socialization into the organization, he tends to interpret these
processes as the outcome of an "enlightnement" (or education) of individuals
by their disciplinary subsumption into the "communal wisdom" of the overarching
organizational code. However, such an interpretation appears to neglect
the network effect by which individuals are shaping their beliefs through
communication and interaction with each other (processes that at the very
end might be simultaneously shaped by individual beliefs).
Thus, it seems to me that a network-theoretical perspective (say the
existence of a social influence network) could possibly ameliorate March's
argument about the complexities of organizational learning. For instance,
it might be reasonable to ask questions like this one: How does the trade-off
between exploration and exploitation in adaptive processes depend on the type
of the relational patterns which are structuring the social interactions
among individuals (actors in this context)?
This is why I would like to ask you whether you happen to know of any
works extending March's model in the direction of taking into account the
network effects in organizational learning by explicitly following the formal
methodology of social networks? I would really appreciate receiving any tips
that could help me understand the dynamics of adaptive processes like
organizational learning unfolded on a social network.
Department of Mathematics
University of Patras
265 00 Rio-Patras
Fax: +30-2610-996318, +30-2610-992965
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