Demystifying Unlearning and Innovation in Higher Education Institutions

Demystifying Unlearning and Innovation in Higher Education Institutions

Isabel Martins (University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa), Ana Martins (University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa) and Orlando P. Pereira (Universidade do Minho, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9531-1.ch014

Abstract

This chapter analyzes human and emotional capitals as the main source for organizational change, innovation, and learning. Individuals and teams thus have the aptitude to revitalize their learning ability. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the relationship between intentional unlearning and forgetting. Dynamic capabilities and knowledge management emphasize that organizational innovation depends on knowledge considered to be the vital resource. The old dominant logic must be unlearned for organizations to embrace innovation and creativity. Organizational learning models are critiqued and the capacity for unlearning in organizational learning processes is highlighted. Unlearning typologies and related barriers of organizational forgetting are critiqued. Furthermore, unlearning leads to innovation as re-learning is based on initiative and experimentation between individuals in a blameless culture. The organizational learning social constructivist perspective is adopted in a dynamic capability theoretical framework. Furthermore, the notion of transdisciplinarity embraces a new age mindset which refutes the old dominant logic.
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Elucidating Unlearning, Forgetting And Learning

In the current twenty first century education continues to be compartmentalized, fragmented, mechanical and authoritarian. Barabasi (2003) holds the same view in that,

Reductionism was the driving force behind much of the twentieth century’s scientific research. To comprehend nature, it tells us, we must first decipher its components. The assumption is that once we understand the parts, it will be easy to grasp the whole. Divide and conquer; the devil is in the details. Therefore for decades we have been forced to see the world through its constituents. We have been trained to study atoms and superstrings to understand the universe; molecules to comprehend life; individual genes to understand complex human behavior; prophets to see the origins of fads and religions. Now we are as close to knowing everything there know about the pieces. But we are as far as we have ever been to understanding nature as a whole. (Barabasi, 2003, p. 6).

Education needs to be transformed,

Key Terms in this Chapter

Forgetting: This notion is considered a window providing access to individual flexibility in order to adjust and update knowledge and organizational routines. Forgetting persuades individuals to question existing knowledge, recognized and established values before unlearning. Forgetting is the unintentional decrease and loss of this type of knowledge.

Organizational learning: This notion is closely associated with organizational forgetting which can only be understood in connection with other notions, especially the concept of memory because the actual learning process focuses on the creation of new routines and competencies. Acquiring knowledge, internally or externally to the organization, enables the quest for a common meaning which becomes organizational memory.

Innovation: This originality may occur at various levels, namely, organizational, human and social. Human capital is the core where innovation occurs. Innovation is considered as the deliberate and intentional source of creating problems, the resolution of which includes the appropriate identification application of instruments. Innovation entails applying knowledge, a process of introducing change in the organization, deconstructing constructs, then preconceived ideas and routines are a necessary condition for innovation to succeed.

Higher Education Institutions: Institutions offering tertiary education bring about the core where learning to unlearn can occur because these embrace knowledge screening procedures to situate this knowledge on the conversion spiral and later, to convert it into codified knowledge.

Creativity: This term is related to an individual’s personality principles that are responsible for behavior, type of imagination and resourcefulness the person displays. Mental and emotional openness of individuals in organizations yield a greater the tendency for creativity and competitiveness. The internal cycle of learning and creativity depends on the capacity to innovate, generate and solve problems.

Unlearning: This term is related to the conscious awareness to relinquish obsolete knowledge. Forgetting persuades individuals to question existing knowledge, recognized and established values before unlearning can occur. Forgetting and unlearning capitalize on and update knowledge. Unlearning fosters the possibility for new knowledge creation and absorption. Only individuals and not organizations can unlearn and forget. When individuals are aware that there is a new path to understand a situation then this facilitates unlearning. This understanding promotes the yearning for new ideas which urge individuals to have an open mind, to be generous and receptive to thinking and acting in groups and teams, with the disposition to take on risk and enliven mutual motivation.

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