This is an informal workshop on organizational knowledge and organizational learning. Its main purpose is to provide a forum to discuss ideas, practical issues, and research in progress related to organizational knowledge and learning. Frontiers workshops also explore issues and research that has an indirect relationship to knowledge and learning, including, but not limited to, organizational rules, routines, laws, contracts, institutions, cultures, ontologies, semantic networks, cognitive maps, sensemaking, relevance, intelligence, complexity, ecology, information processing, secrecy, trust, vision, human capital, organizational design, knowledge management, and strategy.

Frontiers is open to all students, faculty, and visiting scholars who are interested in these issues. Participants may come from the UBC as well as neighboring learning institutions. We also welcome UBC alumni, industry practitioners, and visitors from outside the university. Participation is easy (no registration required -- this event is entirely informal). Just show up at the assigned time and place. If you would like to suggest a discussion topic, lead a discussion, or present your research, contact Martin (contact info below).

The time and place of Frontiers seminars have changed. The seminar now takes place on Tuesdays from 4 to 5:30pm. The new location is HA 423a in the Sauder School of Business (Angus Building, coordinates D3 on this map).




When and Where
Discussion Topic
Date: June 13, 2006, 4-5:30 pm,

HA 423A, UBC Campus


Although organizational learning plays an immense role in the healthcare field, comparatively little research has explored how organizational subunits in hospitals learn to deal with new diseases, procedures, and technologies. The healthcare field is especially intriguing because there are many trade-offs involved in organizational learning processes. Our discussion will be guided by recent papers in this area. Because the papers are part of an anonymous review process, the authors are not known to us, and we will refrain from distributing the manuscripts electronically. We will produce a small number of paper copies that will be available at Martin's office in HA 561 (in the shelf on his door).

Discussion Leader: Martin Schulz (Sauder School of Business, UBC)

Date: TBA, 2006, 4-5:30 pm,

HA 423A, UBC Campus


Organizational routines including formal rules and informal practices play a critical role for organizations. They are at the operational core of most organizational functions, including procurement, production, accounting, and sales. They are the principal means by which organizations connect their inputs to outputs. They shape the organizational workflows that transform organizational knowledge and raw materials into valuable products and services. More than any other organizational component, routines make organizations organized by lending direction, stability, predictability, and often rationality to organizational action.

Because routines are so central for organizations, they have always played an important role in theories of organizations, but recently they have found increasing attention. Liberated from their roots in bureaucracy theory and scientific management, routines are today seen as repositories of organizational knowledge, as genes of organizational evolution, as grammars of organizational action, as instruments of control, as symbols of order and continuity, and as pillars of organizational legitimacy. In this workshop we will attempt to identify and discuss some of the main elements of an organizational theory of routines. We will start out with a discussion of three topics immediately relevant for routines: efficiency of routines, competency traps, and change of routines. A draft paper might be provided for downloading soon.

Discussion Leader: Martin Schulz (Sauder School of Business, UBC)

*Adobe Acrobat is freeware. You can download the Adobe Acrobat Reader Here

Upcoming Attractions

Topic (Date TBA)
Discussion Leader: Julian Dierkes
Discussion Leader: David Crawford
Knowledge Evolution
Articles by Karl Popper and Anne Miner and John Langton and others. Discussion Leader: Martin (or whoever volunteers)
Organizational Knowledge Diffusion
Articles by Robert Evenson and Bruce Kogut and Udo Zander and others. Discussion Leader: Martin (or whoever volunteers)
Rule Following and Grammars of Action
Articles by Brian Pentland and James Barker and others. Discussion Leader: Martin (or whoever volunteers)
The Learning Bureaucracy
Articles by Paul Adler and others. Discussion Leader: Martin (or whoever volunteers)
Organizational Learning through Performance Feedback
Articles by Henrich Greve and and James G. March and others. Discussion Leader: Martin (or whoever volunteers)
Relevant Knowledge
Articles by Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson and others. Discussion Leader: Martin (or whoever volunteers)
The Sociology of Knowledge is Dead: Long Live the Sociology of Knowledge
Articles by R.K. Merton and others. Discussion Leader: Martin (or whoever volunteers)

Frontiers Archives

Information on past sessions of Frontiers is available here.


Background Info on the Workshop

The workshop usually meets every second week. Exceptions are likely to arise. The current schedule is published on this web site:

If you prefer, you can receive an email notification of upcoming events. If you would like to be added to the distribution list, send email to Martin Schulz, stating that you would like to be added to the Frontiers distribution list.

Multiple formats will be used for this workshop. One format involves presenting and discussing research in progress. A second format involves discussing a current (or classic) article distributed in advance to participants. A third format is the presentation and discussion of a case related to learning or knowledge. Additional formats will be adopted or invented as the occasion arises.

This workshop will greatly benefit from suggestions of participants. For example, if you find an issue or a new (or old) article related to organizational knowledge that you think would be interesting to discuss, drop me a note, and I will try to incorporate it into our schedule. Please send your suggestions for meeting topics to Martin.

Please send your suggestions and any inquiries you might have to, or call (604)822-8381

Thank you.


(Martin's Homepage)