Unlearning before creating new knowledge: A cognitive process

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Grisold, T., Kaiser, A., & Hafner, J. (2017). Unlearning before creating new knowledge: A cognitive process. Paper presented at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 50), Big Island, Hawaii. (VHB_3: C)

Publication type

Paper in Conference Proceedings


Recent research expresses serious doubts on the concept of unlearning. It is argued that knowledge cannot be discarded or eliminated in order to make space for the creation of new knowledge. Taking into account the recent scepticism, we focus on the cognitive dimension of unlearning and propose an alternative conceptualization. Considering how far unlearning can go from a psychological/cognitive scientific perspective, we propose that unlearning is about reducing the influence of old knowledge on our cognitive capacity. This study: (a) investigates the unlearning process within the cognitive domain and on an individual level and (b) proposes unlearning process triggers that detract or facilitate the knowledge change process, which could subsequently contribute to unlearning on an organizational level.


Organizational Units

  • Institute of Information Systems
  • Hilti Chair of Business Process Management

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