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Barriers to Unlearning
The barriers to unlearning in Tsang’s study mainly revolved around the authority of old knowledge as opposed to the new ones. Thus, for the majority of the employees, the authority of the new method can be questioned as it was not proven to be more effective. In that regard, the mentality of “If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Fix It”, might be reduced, if the management proved that it is broken. Accordingly, the barriers are sequential in their order, similar to the stages of knowledge transfer. The barriers, in that regard, can be seen through a doubt of necessity, comparison to old routines, and knowledge-based habits. It can be assumed that the root of those barriers is doubt of efficiency, which might not be erased in a typical situation. Thus, a crisis might be seen as appropriate for eliminating those barriers. In Akgün, Lynn, and Byrne (2006), the authors argued that the creation of a sense of urgency might facilitate team unlearning (Akgün et al., 2006). Linking such a method to Tsang’s barriers, it can be stated that such a sense of urgency can be used to prove the effectiveness of the new methods, which in term was considered by Tsang as a key to facilitating processes of unlearning (Tsang, 2008). The sense of urgency in that matter can be created through artificial crises, in which an outsider brought will challenge the old methods and eliminate group thinking during the process of unlearning.
One of the key factors in the increased resistance of long-serving employees can be seen in the way losing the expertise gained can be associated with the loss of power (Srithika and Bhattacharyya, 2009). In that regard, the suggestion that will be working for long-term employees is to eliminate the association of losing power with the new knowledge. Removing top management as an indication of removing old traditions might facilitate the unlearning (Tsang and Zahra, 2008). In the case of long-term employees, the same effect can be achieved by moving them to other departments (Srithika and Bhattacharyya, 2009). In such a way, those employees will not associate old practices with the expertise of their position, and the social embodiment, indicated in Tsang (2008), will be removed. The rationale for such a decision can be also seen through that unlearning might not be necessary for those employees in the new place, and thus, the resistance to change will be lower. The loss of social capital in that regard, represented by the move of the employees, might contribute to reducing the company’s organizational memory, which in the case of change might be seen as a barrier for unlearning (Massingham, 2008).
Time Consumption in Unlearning
The time consumption of unlearning might be viewed from a different perspective, which does not necessarily support the suggestions indicated in Tsang (2008). Those suggestions might be limited to the case, which was specific in several aspects related to the case study and the companies investigated. In that regard, Tsang and Zahra (2008) identified many factors that influence the unlearning process, among which is the country, the type of venture, institutional environment, and the age of the organizations (p.1455)? Although the type of influence is not investigated, it can be assumed that those and other factors might reduce the time needed for unlearning. The example of China is argued to link with such factors as ideology and being a transitional economy. Thus, the latter might be followed that in case the age of the organization, their institutional context, might reduce the time needed for unlearning. Another factor that can be added to the aforementioned is the type of knowledge involved in the organization, where it is argued that tacit knowledge “may be the most difficult to unlearn, precisely because it is unconscious” (Berman et al., 2002). Thus, it can be stated that changes in those factors might reduce the time needed for an organization to unlearn.
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