Unlearning and Forgetting in Organizations

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Type and Duration

PhD-Thesis, February 2015 until March 2018 (finished)


Chair in International Management

Main Research

Growth and Complexity

Field of Research

Knowledge Work and Knowledge Management


The field of organizational studies offers plenty of research and scholarly debate on organizational learning. However, research efforts examining questions as to how and why organizations lose knowledge are still scarce. The doctoral thesis aims at clarifying, understanding, and empirically testing the construct of organizational forgetting and unlearning. More precisely, the project seeks to get a better understanding and discover why and how organizations forget and unlearn. It is important to differentiate between existing knowledge stocks and newly acquired knowledge (e.g. innovations) as well as deliberate unlearning and unintentional modes of forgetting. Clarifying these differences and understanding why and how organizations forget and unlearn are main research questions within the boundaries of this project. Furthermore, the dissertation project investigates the effect of organizational forgetting and unlearning on organizational performance. Empirical results should provide insight into the nature of organizational forgetting and unlearning as well as its effect on organizational performance.


Organizational forgetting, Organizational unlearning