Organizational learning and the technology of foolishness: the case of virtual worlds in IBM

Dodgson, Mark, Gann, David M. and Phillips, Nelson (2013) Organizational learning and the technology of foolishness: the case of virtual worlds in IBM. Organization Science, 24 5: 1358-1376. doi:10.1287/orsc.1120.0807

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Author Dodgson, Mark
Gann, David M.
Phillips, Nelson
Title Organizational learning and the technology of foolishness: the case of virtual worlds in IBM
Journal name Organization Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1047-7039
Publication date 2013-10-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1287/orsc.1120.0807
Volume 24
Issue 5
Start page 1358
End page 1376
Total pages 19
Place of publication Hanover, MD, United States
Publisher Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
Language eng
Abstract In this paper, we examine how and why organizational learning is affected by virtualization technologies. The literature on organizational learning has identified its many constraints, and the influence of information technologies on overcoming these restraints has also received attention. Little research, however, has addressed how organizational learning is affected by a new type of technology associated with “virtuality”: the characterization of people, objects, and processes by digital representations, providing enhanced opportunities for the interpersonal and organizational interactivity and engagement that stimulates organizational learning. We present an exploratory case study of the engagement with, and use of, virtual worlds at IBM, a leading user of this virtualization technology. Virtual worlds are associated with games; we explore their use in the novel conduct of social interactions in meetings, rehearsals, and brainstorming, and we argue that organizational learning results from forms of play. We explain how such a playful, game-like technology came to be accepted in a serious for-profit science and engineering organization through a process we refer to as convergent recognition. We find organizational learning results from the interrelated processes behind the adoption of the technology and its application. By reference to the distinction between technologies of rationality and foolishness, we theorize how their reconciliation occurs through the mutually reinforcing ways organizations learn to engage with and use new technologies.
Keyword Organizational learning
Technology of foolishness
Virtual worlds
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online: 28 February 2013.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
UQ Business School Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 21 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 23 Apr 2013, 19:50:43 EST by Karen Morgan on behalf of UQ Business School