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Facilitating unlearning during implementation of new technology

By Karen L. Becker

Abstract

Purpose – One of the critical issues for change management, particularly in relation to the implementation of new technologies, is the existence of prior knowledge and established mental models which may hinder change efforts. Understanding unlearning and how it might assist during organizational change is a way to address this resistance. The purpose of this paper is to present research designed to identify specific factors that facilitate unlearning. Design/methodology/approach – Drawing together issues identified as potential influencers of unlearning, a survey questionnaire was developed and administered in an Australian corporation undergoing large-scale change due to the implementation of an enterprise information system. The results were analyzed to identify specific factors that impact on unlearning. Findings – Findings from this paper identify factors that hinder or help the unlearning process during times of change including understanding the need for change, the level of organizational support and training, assessment of the change, positive experience and informal support, the organization's history of change, individual's prior outlooks, and individuals' feelings and expectations. Research limitations/implications – The use of only one organization does not allow for comparisons between organizations of different sizes, cultures or industries and therefore extension of this research is recommended. Practical implications – For practitioners, this paper provides specific elements at both the level of individuals and the organization that need to be considered for optimal unlearning during times of change. Originality/value – Previous literature on unlearning has been predominantly conceptual and theoretical. These empirical findings serve to further an earlier model based on qualitative research into potential influencers of unlearning

Topics: 150307 Innovation and Technology Management, Australia, Change Management, Communication Technologies, Information Systems, Innovation
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1108/09534811011049590
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.qut.edu.au:33184
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