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Bramble Bushes in a Thicket
Narrative and the intangibles of learning networks

One of the most fundamental processes in business competition is inter-organizational learning. To create and distribute value across organizational boundaries companies need to learn from their competitors. Increasingly it is clear that the learning process depends on the creation of a complex set of networks across organizations. This book explores the creation of ‘learning networks’ and sheds light on how they function:- real versus virtual forms of interaction, collaboration versus competition in the learning process, and joint value creation versus individual value appropriation in networks.

The contributing authors are leading international experts in the field of global strategy whose chapters have been selected for their insights into the interdependence between organizational learning and networks. Explores the creation of ‘learning networks’ as a way for businesses to understand and learn from their competitors.
Looks at inter-organizational learning networks and sheds light on how they function.

In this chapter we explore how inter-organisational learning networks affect three systemic attributes of well-functioning organisations which are not often considered in value propositions for such networks: identity management, trust negotiation, and productive conflict. We approach the topic from the standpoint of a naturalistic sense-making paradigm, in which complexity, uncertainty and the stimulation of natural processes are emphasised over idealism, control and expert opinion. Since narrative and networks are two fundamental elements of human collective functioning and as such are integral to the naturalistic paradigm, we bring them together in this chapter. We consider how narrative participates in each of the network effects of identity, trust and conflict, and how that participation can best be supported to maximize these intangible yet strong elements of value afforded by inter-organisational networks.

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