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A little about the mystery: Process learning as collaboration evolves

Hibbert, P.C. and Huxham, C. (2005) A little about the mystery: Process learning as collaboration evolves. European Management Review, 2 (1). pp. 59-69. ISSN 1740-4754

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In the complex, usually problematic situation of interorganizational collaboration the need for managerial learning in the pursuit of collaborative advantage is high. Two particular characterizations of learning, in relation to interorganizational collaboration, are well described in the extant literature. We characterize these as transferable process learning and substantive (goal oriented) learning and introduce a third mode, the principal focus and contribution of this paper: local collaborative process learning. It is focused on understandings of the particular collaborative situation - including an appreciation of such elements as purpose, partners and processes - which participants gain as they progress the collaboration. Through research in four specific partnership development programmes, we develop an initial characterization of the notion and suggest additional layers of complexity that are implicitly involved in such learning. Inter-relationships between the three modes of learning in collaborations are then explored, to suggest some initial, broad, practice implications.