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Organizational Learning as Evolution: The Promise of Generalized Darwinism for Organization Science

Jan-Willem Stoelhorst
University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Ard Huizing
University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to provide a rigorous treatment of organizational learning as an evolutionary process. The paper is motivated by the believe that the notion of ‘generalized Darwinism’ offers a meta-theory that can draw together the diverse theoretical perspectives that comprise the extensive literature on the selection and adaptation of organizations. We clarify the notion of generalized Darwinism, and show that it provides a theoretical framework that can accommodate adaptation, selection and learning processes. This is done in three steps. First, we specify the general nature of a Darwinian explanation. Secondly, we demonstrate that learning can be understood as a Darwinian process. Thirdly, we show how the resulting theoretical framework can be applied to both organizational selection and adaptation. We discuss the implications of this view of organizational learning and conclude that the explanatory logic of generalized Darwinism demonstrates that the adaptation-selection debate is misconstrued. Adaptation and selection are simply different manifestations of the same Darwinian process.

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Reference:Stoelhorst, J.W., Huizing, A. (2005). "Organizational Learning as Evolution: The Promise of Generalized Darwinism for Organization Science," University of Amsterdam, Netherlands . Sprouts: Working Papers on Information Systems, 5(11). http://sprouts.aisnet.org/5-11
Keywords:organization science, Darwin
Item Type:Article - Volume 5 Article 11 (2005)
Language:English
Email: Jan-Willem Stoelhorst (j.w.stoelhorst@uva.nl)
Ard Huizing (a.huizing@uva.nl)
Related Link(s):http://primavera.feb.uva.nl/scripts/abstract.php?id=194

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