Inderscience Publishers

Unlearning as a driver of sustainable change and innovation: three Australian case studies

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In building an organisation's innovation capacity, managers have to be aware of barriers to learning and have an understanding of the importance of unlearning old ways. Unlearning is emerging as an important element of change and innovation in organisations. As the pace of change continues to increase, it is clear that normal processes of forgetting and transition may not be sufficient. Two key scholars in this field have proposed models of unlearning however, little empirical research exists to further understanding of unlearning and the factors that may impact upon it. This paper reports on case study research aimed at further developing the concept of unlearning. A process model has emerged from the data that highlights inhibitors and enablers of the unlearning process. In an applied sense, the model provides managers with identifiable enablers and inhibitors of individual unlearning; issues which must then be addressed in change strategies at the organisational level.

Keywords: unlearning, continuous innovation, sustainable change, barriers to learning, resistance, organisational memory, organisational culture, frames of reference

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