Standard Operating Procedures and Organizational Learning
We report results of a study on processes of Organizational Learning (OL). Changes and suspensions of organizational rules are taken as indicators for OL. The empiric analysis is performed with personnel rules of a German bank. The aim of our study is to identify factors that have an impact on rule changes and suspensions and thereby on OL. These influence factors are, on the one hand, variables that reflect experiences of organizational members with rules and, on the other, variables which capture organizational and environmental shifts. An important finding of this study is that the processes of rule change and rule suspension follow quite different patterns. The changing of a rule is mainly influenced by experience variables. Two basic modes of experiential influences could be shown: habitualization and working one's way out of a failure trap. Experience variables also play a role in the process of rule suspension. The negative influence of rule age on the suspension process suggests that the habitualization of rules over time increases reluctance to abolish a rule. It could also be shown that the positive version age effect on the suspension rate, which indicated an obsolescence process during the existence of a rule version when no additional variables are controlled, is explained by ecological shifts. Organizational and environmental shifts hardly display any significant effects on the rate of rule change. On the other hand, these shifts represent distinct influences on rule suspension. When the environment of a rule changes the need for an abolishment of this rule rises. The attention towards rules which are no longer appropriate seems to be stimulated by these environmental and organizational shifts. These findings suggest that OL can consist of a type of learning which is rather independent of certain ecological triggers and it can also consist of a type of learning which is maintained in order to adapt to certain changes within and outside the o
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