CALD Seminar

  • Kathleen Carley
  • Professor of Sociology & Organizations, SDS: Social & Decision Sciences

Organizational Learning and Adaptation: A Network Based Knowledge Management Approach

Todays businesses face a knowledge intensive, fast paced, ever changing environment. Managers often note that their organization is constantly undergoing changes. Adaptation, and organizational learning, are thought to be critical to achieving high levels of organizational performance. Can organizations learn in a changing environment? What characteristics are needed to enable the organization to adapt? The organization's design can be characterized from an interaction/knowledge perspective as a meta-network approach linking personnel, resources/knowledge, and tasks. Changes in this meta-network, such as personnel turnover, result in error cascades and changes in workload whose severity depends on the type of change. This representation has value in areas beyond learning such as information security and impact of telecommunication technology. Using this representation, and a combination of computer simulation and field studies conducted as part of the Bridge-to-Global war game for the Navy, the nature of adaptive teams was examined. Results are numerous including: it is possible to design organizations for high performance, the average severity of changes can be rank ordered, and personnel prefer changes with less chances for error cascades. Nevertheless, designing for high adaptivity may be designing against high performance at least in the short run.
For More Information, Please Contact: 
Catherine Copetas,