The rapid evolution of the economic and technological environment leads companies to deliberate over how to manage knowledge threatened with obsolescence. Firms have been concerned with the acquisition and preservation of this knowledge, yet the latter cannot be assimilated without abandoning old habits that no longer serve their purpose. In other words, organizational unlearning must often precede organizational learning. There has been almost no research into the factors that prevent us from abandoning routines. The purpose of this paper is therefore to show how organizational culture can be a barrier to unlearning, particularly if it is a paternalistic culture. The example of the Hellocourt shoe factory convincingly illustrates the difficulty that an organization with a paternalistic orientation can have in abandoning routines, and how such difficulties may lead to closure.
- organizational unlearning