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Encyclopedia of Technology and Innovation Management by Gina Colarelli O'Connor, V. K. Narayanan

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Chapter 25. Learning and Experience

Paul Olk and Robert McGowan

University of Denver

Introduction

Effective management of knowledge and how an organization learns from its experiences have become increasingly relevant to most technology and innovation management issues. Reflecting an overall trend towards a greater percentage of work involving individuals sharing knowledge (Beardsley, Johnson, and Manyika, 2006) effective organizational learning has been identified in technology and innovation management research as critical to a firm achieving and sustaining a competitive advantage. We address this development by focusing on what is meant by knowledge, how individual knowledge leads to organizational learning, and the various ways firms learn.

What is knowledge?

Knowledge is defined variously as (i) expertise and skills acquired through experience and education, the the oretical or practical understanding of a subject; (ii) what is known in a particular field or in total, facts and information; or (iii) awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.[42] Most start with Plato's formulation of knowledge as "justified true belief". Plato aside, the focus in this discussion will be on "organizational knowledge" and how it is acquired. Naturally, skills, familiarity, and experience all play a pivotal role.

An organization's ability to perform an activity rests on its knowledge of that activity; that is, the competencies rest on both technological and market knowledge ...

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