Organizational learning in Asia

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Book chapter

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Handbook of organizational learning and knowledge management


2nd ed.

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Last Page





Ikujiro Nonaka, knowledge management, organizational learning, knowledge creation, Asia


This chapter reviews prior studies on organizational learning in Asia, including the distinguished work of Ikujiro Nonaka of Hitotsubashi University, who, over two decades, through decoding the principles that underpin the innovative capability of Japanese organizations, has developed a dynamic theory of knowledge creation in Japanese firms. The four broad issues—knowledge management involving joint ventures in Asia, knowledge management involving wholly-owned subsidiaries in Asia, transfer of organizational learning practices to Asia, and measuring organizational learning in Asia—explored by prior research into organizational learning in Asia (excluding Japanese organizations on home soil) are reviewed. The tendency for Asia-based researchers has been to follow research traditions imported from either North America or Europe, rather than developing emic approaches. However, Nonaka's research, which draws on data from inside Japan, provides highly credible insights into the dynamics of knowledge creation within a dozen or more large and successful Japanese multinationals across various industries. Therefore, Nonaka's theory of knowledge creation is reviewed and its core conceptual components, with particular emphasis on the socialization, externalization, combination, and internationalization (SECI) model, and the enabling factors that are embedded at the individual and organizational levels are summarized. The cultural and institutional features that apply more generally across Asia and their implications for a pan-Asian theory of organizational learning are also considered.



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Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

ISBN of the source publication: 9781614729150

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Recommended Citation

Snell, R., & Hong, J. (2011). Organizational learning in Asia. In M. Easterby-Smith & M. A. Lyles. (Eds.), Handbook of organizational learning and knowledge management (pp. 635-658). Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley. doi: 10.1002/9781119207245.ch28