Trans-organizational learning across healthcare organizations

Pyrko, Igor and Dörfler, Viktor and Eden, Colin (2017) Trans-organizational learning across healthcare organizations. In: 33 EGOS Colloquium, 2017-07-06 - 2017-07-08.

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The aim of this paper is to clarify both the role and the nature of Communities of Practice (CoPs) in developing organizational learning across formal organizational boundaries. We demonstrate that, drawing on theory and practice, it is misleading to claim that CoPs may cross organizational boundaries. Instead, we assert that members of productive CoPs have to actively work on opening up paths for participation for practitioners from other organizations in order to maintain a lively practice and an energetic community. For this reason we introduce the concept of trans-organizational learning to account for learning happening across landscapes of practice comprising of various professional communities which practitioners need to be aware of in order to carry on with their everyday jobs. The conceptualization of trans-organizational learning highlights a difficult managerial dilemma of retaining absolute control versus allowing employees the ‘discretionary space’ to learn regularly from and with practitioners from other firms, and this can lead to both positive and negative unintended consequences. Nonetheless, with respect to the idea of landscapes of practice, we argue that promoting trans-organizational learning is likely to be more promising for the long-term prosperity of an organization.