The Learning Organisation Meme: Emergence of a Management Replicator (or Parrots, Patterns and Performance)

PRICE, Ilfryn and SHAW, Ray (1996). The Learning Organisation Meme: Emergence of a Management Replicator (or Parrots, Patterns and Performance). In: 3rd International conference of the European Consortium for the Learning Organization, Copenhagen, May 1996.


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Organisations and organisms are self-maintaining systems which spontaneously seek to preserve an evolved order. Both are enabled by replicators: memes or genes respectively. Whereas genes are the units of transmission of our biological inheritance memes are the units of transmission of our cultural inheritance. They cause organisations to settle into patterns, routines and habits of behaviour: manifestations of a particular memetic inheritance. These patterns enable the organisation but simultaneously limit its performance. Both systems share the evolutionary dynamic of adaptive radiation followed by stabilisation. Memetic examples include new markets, new technologies and new business ideas. Business theories and their derivative, managerial fads, are a class of memes. This paper illustrates the increasing returns dynamic in the evolution of management recipes by contrasting Business Process Re-engineering and the Learning Organisation. It ends with a plea for the Learning Organisations to retain memetic diversity rather than be trapped in sterile competitions to define an LO. The power of the Learning Organisation movement may, paradoxically, be that we are not stuck with what it is.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Business School Research Institute > Service Sector Management
Departments: Sheffield Business School > Service Sector Management
Depositing User: Ilfryn Price
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2012 16:39
Last Modified: 12 May 2018 06:01

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