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Inter-organizational learning and strategic renewal in SMEs: extending the 4I Framework

Jones, Oswald and Macpherson, Allan (2006) Inter-organizational learning and strategic renewal in SMEs: extending the 4I Framework. Long range planning, 39 (2). pp. 155-175. ISSN 0024-6301

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Abstract

This article explores how mature SMEs which lack internal resources access external knowledge to facilitate strategic renewal. Organizational learning, in contrast to entrepreneurial learning, recognizes that owner-managers must distribute knowledge throughout the firm to achieve competitive benefits. Three case studies demonstrate how external ‘knowledge providers’ (customers, suppliers and educational institutions) help institutionalize ‘new’ knowledge. Initially, learning from inter-organizational relationships requires owner-managers to be proactive in accessing and extending appropriate inter-organizational relationships. Second, external organizations can play an active role by ‘intertwining’ knowledge to support the development of processes, systems and routines that distribute and institutionalize learning throughout the organization. The three cases have practical implications for owner-managers and add to academic knowledge via the extension of Crossan et al's 4I model of organizational learning.

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