Title: The influence of learning in collaborative improvement

Authors: Jacob Steendahl Nielsen, Harry Boer, Frank Gertsen

Addresses: Centre for Industrial Production, Aalborg University, Fibigerstraede 16, Aalborg 9220, Denmark. ' Centre for Industrial Production, Aalborg University, Fibigerstraede 16, Aalborg 9220, Denmark. ' Centre for Industrial Production, Aalborg University, Fibigerstraede 16, Aalborg 9220, Denmark

Abstract: Collaborative improvement is a purposeful inter-company interactive process that focuses on continuous incremental innovation aimed at enhancing the partnership|s overall performance. Considering that in such an environment the capability to learn jointly and individually is crucial, this paper takes a learning perspective on collaborative improvement and addresses the question: How do organisational learning and collaboration interplay and affect improvement performance? Based on an analysis of three dyads of the same Extended Manufacturing Enterprise, this paper concludes that a robust learning environment (willing and able to learn) creates operational, relational and learning outcomes – a self-reinforcing process. A weak learning environment (some willingness but limited ability to learn) creates operational outcomes but is sensitive to |accidents| and thus at risk of actually producing negative relational and learning outcomes. A |blocked learning| environment (no willingness to learn) may create good operational outcomes, but will not produce learning and relational outcomes. Consequently, it is doubtful if such situations are sustainable.

Keywords: collaborative improvement; organisational learning; performance improvement; action research; continuous innovation; extended enterprise; manufacturing enterprises; sustainable change.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2008.018063

International Journal of Technology Management, 2008 Vol.42 No.1/2, pp.107 - 126

Published online: 28 Apr 2008 *

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