Patterns in Organizational Culture Change: Imprints of the Interaction Between Organizational Culture and Organizational Learning?

Patricia Wolf, Pierre-Yves Kocher, Kristina Vaarst Andersen, Jessica Steppe

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Organizations’ ability to adapt their organizational culture in response to new environmental conditions is critical for their competitive advantage (Rindova et al., 2011). Such adaption implies organizational learning: Organizations’ cultural knowledge must develop to reflect the changed reality (Tsoukas & Chia, 2002) and accommodate new knowledge (Pachidi et al., 2021). Organizational learning, i.e., "change in the organization's knowledge that occurs as a function of experience" (Argote & Miron-Spektor, 2011: 1124), renders part of commonly held cognitions obsolete and requires developing new cultural knowledge (Sackmann, 1992). When organizational culture changes, the assumptions and values that motivate members’ cognition and behavior are reassessed (Coombs et al., 1992; Kuwada, 1998; Woiceshyn, 2000; Canato et al., 2013) and the cultural knowledge enriched (Howard-Grenville et al., 2011; Rindova et al., 2011; Weber & Dacin, 2011). This leads to organizational innovation by both adding new knowledge items as well as suppressing aspects of cultural knowledge. Several studies analyze changes in organizational culture in response to environmental jolts (Cloutier & Ravasi, 2000; Canato et al., 2013) or sudden threats (Ravasi & Schultz, 2006). However, organizational culture change often results from gradual changes in the environment over years or decades (Howard-Grenville et al., 2011). The preference for investigating sudden changes is natural given that gradual changes are hard to observe, what makes it difficult to collect data monitoring organizational culture over many years without certainty of detecting any changes. Yet, it leaves research on organizational culture with only partial insight into the phenomenon of organizational culture change. This paper contributes to the literature with insight into organizational culture change as a longitudinal organizational learning process and brought about by a combination of both sudden jolts and gradual changes in the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event24th International CINet Conference - Linz, Austria
Duration: 17 Sept 202319 Sept 2023


Conference24th International CINet Conference


  • Innovation culture
  • Organization culture change
  • Organizational learning


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