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The role of planned and improvisational knowledge implementation processes in teams



Funding body

British Academy of Management


Principal investigator: Dr Aida Hajro
Co-investigator: Professor Cristina Gibson
Co-investigator: Prof. Jean Bartunek

Project description

In this project, we develop theory illuminating team knowledge implementation processes as key for enacting change in organizational schema. Our longitudinal, inductive study in one of world’s biggest airlines examined such change using semi-structured interviews, extensive observations, and a detailed examination of internal and publicly available documents. Our findings reveal that teams that oscillated between planned and improvisational knowledge implementation processes were most successful in enacting the new organizational schema. We found that such oscillation processes were more prevalent in teams that exhibited a moderated degree of coupling to the organization, in contrast to those that were tightly coupled or loosely coupled.  Moderate coupling enabled the optimal combination of individual/group effort, flexibility/inflexibility, and routinization/experimentation. By integrating team learning research with research on schemata change, we point to an important but previously overlooked tool for managing change in highly interactive systems.

Impact statement: This research has been taken up and used by policy makers and practitioners. The principal investigator is currently working with companies such as Daimler and Hillingdon Hospital on improving the effectiveness of their strategic change initiatives.