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A Complex Systems Paradox of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management


  • Soheil Ghili

    (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA)

  • Serima Nazarian

    (DePaul University, Chicago, IL, USA)

  • Madjid Tavana

    (Business Systems Analytics Department. La Salle University, Philadelphia, PA, USA)

  • Sepehr Keyvanshokouhi

    (Graduate School of Management and Economics, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran)

  • Mohammad Taghi Isaai

    (Graduate School of Management and Economics, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran)


Many organizations are striving to survive and remain competitive in the current uncertain and rapidly changing economic environment. Businesses must innovate to face this volatility and maintain their competitiveness. Organizational learning is a complex process with many interrelated elements linking knowledge management with organizational innovation. In this paper we use several theories (i.e., organizational learning, knowledge management, organizational innovation, complexity theory, and systems theory) to discover and study the interrelationships among the organizational learning elements. The purpose of this paper is threefold: (1) We identify organizational learning as a mediating variable between knowledge management and organizational innovation; (2) We further present a paradox where decisions that are expected to improve organizational learning, surprisingly do not work; and (3) We show this paradox is not the result of overlooking organizational learning elements, but rather, caused by neglecting to consider the complex interrelationships and interdependencies among them.

Suggested Citation

  • Soheil Ghili & Serima Nazarian & Madjid Tavana & Sepehr Keyvanshokouhi & Mohammad Taghi Isaai, 2013. "A Complex Systems Paradox of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management," International Journal of Knowledge-Based Organizations (IJKBO), IGI Global, vol. 3(3), pages 53-72, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:igg:jkbo00:v:3:y:2013:i:3:p:53-72

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