یادگیری سازمانی در شرایط خرید فن آوری پیشرفته : سوابق و پیامدهای مشارکت مشاوران خارجی فناوری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|3981||2007||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 36, Issue 3, April 2007, Pages 285–299
Typically, research on organizational learning has been conceptual in nature. In a departure from this tradition, we develop and test a structural model of organizational learning in the context of the purchasing of an expensive and complex product in the information technology (IT) area. The key focus of our research is the participation of external IT consultants and our model links seven explanatory constructs that are consistent with the process school of thought in organizational learning. More specifically, two organizational variables–formalization, strategic importance–and two individual-level variables–stakeholding, prior experience–are viewed as antecedents of consultant participation. In contrast, we view internal search effort, external search effort, and organizational learning as consequences of consultant participation. As predicted, all four antecedent variables affected consultant participation. Moreover, we found that, while consultant participation had a positive impact on internal search effort and organizational learning, its impact on external information search effort was negative.
Though the topic of organizational learning was first highlighted by Cyert and March (1963), it did not gain much attention from researchers until the late 1970s when it became a focus of activity for a few organizational theorists ( Argyris, 1975 and Argyris & Schön, 1978). Research activity however did increase in the 1980s, but it was not until the 1990s that the topic became a central one in a variety of management disciplines, such as strategy and production management (Easterby-Smith, 1997). Similarly, scholars in the field of marketing have only recently begun to address this topic. Though early studies did examine the closely related areas concerning the use of market information (Deshpandé & Zaltman, 1987) and knowledge utilization (Menon & Varadarajan, 1992), Sinkula (1994) was the first to explicitly examine organizational learning by linking it to market information processing. More recently, studies have extended this work by focusing on how organizational learning relates to marketing channels (Lukas, Hult, & Ferrell, 1996), marketing strategy (Menon, Bharadwaj, Adidam, & Edison, 1999), purchasing (Hult & Nichols, 1996 and Hult et al., 2000), and how market-based organizational learning is linked to values, knowledge, and behavior (Sinkula, Baker, & Noordeweir, 1997). In marketing, as in other disciplines, the majority of studies of organizational learning have been conceptual in nature and it is only in the last few years that empirical studies have been conducted (Hult & Nichols, 1996, Hult et al., 2000, Hurley & Hult, 1998, Menon et al., 1999 and Sinkula et al., 1997). In the research presented here, we add to this growing body of empirical literature and our central focus is on the link between information search (acquisition) and organizational learning in the context of the purchasing of complex and expensive technological products. Typically, this type of decision making involves people from several functional areas and the search processes (both internal and external) often take many months before they are completed. In short, this context was chosen because it is information intensive, which means there is ample opportunity for firms to acquire new information and knowledge (Weiss & Heide, 1993). As a result, there is significant potential for organizational learning to take place. Importantly, the participation of outside IT consultants is the key focus of our study of organizational learning. The inclusion of these external members of the decision-making unit (DMU) is predicated on the grounds that: (a) numerous theorists (Huber, 1991, Menon & Varadarajan, 1992 and Slater & Narver, 1995) argue that learning from external consultants is likely to be an important factor in the process of organizational learning; (b) the use of consultants in firms making IT purchase decisions is so widespread (Economist Staff Reporter, 2000); and (c) research shows that technical consultants have a profound effect on search processes in situations involving the purchasing of large-scale IT products (Patterson & Dawes, 1999). As noted by Bell, Whitwell, and Lukas (2002), research on organizational learning can be classified into four schools of thought, the economic, the managerial, the developmental, and the process school. Here, we adopt the process school of thought which is characterised by the view that (a) organizations have the capacity to learn when required; (b) the constructs of learning (e.g., information acquisition, dissemination, and utilization) are common to all organizations; (c) learning is grounded in the cognitive and behavioral capabilities of individual members; and (d) the idiosyncrasies of the individual explain differences in individual learning and that such idiosyncrasies are also likely to translate to learning at the organizational level (Bell et al., 2002). Drawing on theories in organizational buying behavior (Webster & Wind, 1972), knowledge utilization (Menon & Varadarajan, 1992), and organizational learning (Levinthal & March, 1981), we include four exogenous variables in our structural model of organizational learning. Two of these variables–formalization and strategic importance of the purchase–relate to the organization and are included because leading theorists in this field (e.g., Cyert & March, 1992) argue that this type of variable is likely to have a significant impact on learning. The remaining two variables–prior experience and stakeholding–relate to the key member of the DMU. These latter two variables are included because (a) they are consistent with our process view of organizational learning and (b) Nonaka (1994) argues that it is the individual members of an organization who are the prime movers in the process of organizational knowledge creation and learning. Moreover, an organization can only learn through its members (Tsang, 1997), and so the link between the individual and organizational learning occupies a critical position in any theory of organizational learning. Here, we focus on the link between the key member of the DMU and organizational learning. An advantage of this approach, as opposed to averaging responses from all DMU members, is that the key member/informant is likely to be the most knowledgeable on the core constructs in our model viz., internal information search effort, external information search effort, and organizational learning. As argued by Van Bruggen, Lilien, and Kacker (2002), using the most knowledgeable informant on particular constructs can help reduce systematic error, which is often substantial in organizational studies (Phillips, 1981). Here, we contribute to the literature by being the first to examine how consultants affect organizational learning in the context of the purchasing of complex IT products. We also investigate how these external experts affect both internal and external information search effort (or syntactic information search) and how these two processes themselves affect organizational learning. Moreover, our multiple-participant study provides new insights by showing how consultant participation in the buying process is affected by four exogenous variables. Two of these variables relate to the individual (the key DMU member's prior experience and stakeholding), while the other two relate to the organization (formalization and strategic importance). Finally, we assess how these four exogenous variables directly affect organizational learning in our study context.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In sum, we find good support for our model because we explain 37% of the variance in organizational learning. Moreover, we explain 24% of consultant participation, which again seems more than acceptable given that this is an underexplored and complex area of study. However, though our explanation of internal search effort and external search effort (11% and 12%, respectively) is less impressive, this seems reasonable given that the central focus of our study relates to the antecedents and consequences of consultant participation in the study of organizational learning. Accordingly, paths not specified in our model (viz., those from the endogenous variables to internal and external search effort) might be worth studying by future researchers whose intentions are to expand on our narrower focus of consultant participation. In addition, future research could also examine semantic information search (i.e., the meaning of the information obtained) and assess its impact on organizational learning. By doing this, it would overcome a key limitation of our study, which relates to our focus on only syntactic internal and external information search (i.e., the volume of information) and how it relates to organizational learning. Ideally, however, research should examine these two types of information simultaneously and see which type contributes most to organizational learning. Another avenue for future research relates to the likely variance in the amount of organizational learning which may be due to the personal characteristics of the consultants themselves. An explicit assumption of the research presented here is that the key characteristic of the consultants affecting the amount of organizational learning is the degree of their participation in the decision-making process. But this assumption seems somewhat simplistic because individual IT consultants are not only likely to vary in their participation in the buying process but they are also likely to vary considerably in terms of their prior experience, amount of relevant technical knowledge, and political skills in helping DMUs make high-technology purchase decisions. So research is needed to see how important the individual characteristics of consultants are in explaining the amount of organizational learning. For example, would there be less organizational learning in firms in which the consultancy firm had sent an assignment team composed of mainly inexperienced (junior) consultants as opposed to other firms where the consultancy assignment team consisted of mainly senior consultants? This question also raises the issue that, for large-scale purchasing decisions, a consultancy firm is likely to send a team of consultants rather than a single individual. Clearly, this outcome has implications for selecting the most appropriate unit of analysis for this type of research. Should it be the individual or the group (team)? Moreover, because our research focuses on the first stage of the organizational learning process, information acquisition, future research could also examine how information dissemination affects organizational learning. As noted, our research shows that, when the key DMU member has high stakeholding, there is less organizational learning. Though we did not specifically focus on information dissemination, our finding suggests that the control of information by high stakeholders is detrimental to organizational learning. Other individual and organizational factors are also likely to impact on the dissemination of information and so future research is needed to examine the factors which increase/decrease the flows of information. Ideally, this research should use a social network approach to study this topic. Finally, a limitation of this research relates to the size and nature of the sample of respondents from which data were gathered to test our model. While a sample of 62 DMUs is small, the data collected from its members took more than 120 h of personal interviewing to gather. Like much of the research in this area, small samples of respondents necessitate replication research.