presentation/ph.d. project descr.

Wiggo Hustad (
Fri, 30 Sep 1994 14:52:43 +0200

Hi all of you out there !

I'm Wiggo Hustad, a ph.d. candidate at the University of Bergen, Norway,
employed by Western Norway Resarch Institute, Sogndal. My work focuses on
the connection between organizational processes and their outcome (knowledge
and/or action). I have been reading your messages for two tree weeks now and
I think its about time to tell you what I'm up to, and ask for some
comments. Especially I would like to ask for references to books and
articles that show typologies of organization processes and knowledge types.

Inside, and out of the organization learning process

by Wiggo Hustad
Western Norway Research Institute (former WNR Centre)

Abstract/plan of PhD thesis:


Organization theory has for a period of time used the word learning when
describing features to
organizations that have similarities with individuals perception,
adaptability and change.
However, we seldom find descriptions of what this learning contains, and
what processes are
beneath the learning artefacts, i.e. the development of rules, values and
behaviour at the
collective or interpersonal level.The study aims at improving the
understanding of the processes
behind, and the outcomes from organization learning processes, in terms of
knowledge and
action. This seems to be imperative to more effective and more sound

Recent contributions to the field suggest that learning is to be understood
not only as a history
dependent process, but also as an expectation dependent process (see Senge,
1990). In this
context interesting paradoxes may occur. Experience transfer inhibits
learning, or misleads


The Norwegian Statoil company is at the moment undergoing a development
which in some
years might be regarded as a shift in orientation. This shift includes both
the company philosophy
on project development, production and maintenance, as well as
interorganizational and
government attitudes towards future possibilities in the North Sea and
elsewhere. One oil field
development project currently being conducted accentuates this shift. The
study uses this
complex event as a prime case. Studying this shift is a great opportunity to
come closer to an
understanding of what happens inside different processes, and what outcomes
they bring in terms
of knowledge and action, both at the individual and collective level.
Needless to say, computer
technology is present in almost every part of the scene. Statoil have for
some years consciously
focused on experience transfer between complex projects. Together with their
Research Centre I
have participated in this effort.


My method is in periods to take part in their work, to observe and to
discuss. I have planned to
run three semiformal interviews with a selected population. Key participants
may be interviewed
more (started November '93). I also use written sources, both internal and
external. Due to the
fact that organization learning theory is weak on substance concerning what
and why things are
learned, the approach in my study is leaning on what Glaser & Strauss (1967)
called "The
Discovery of Grounded Theory", i.e. to let theory "grow out" of the data,
but with a strong documentation regime (See Yin, 1984).

My study identifies three key events of this Statoil process of change.
First: the events before the
shift in top level management orientation. Second: the implementation of new
ideas trough a oil
field development project. Three: the impact of the first and second event
on the company's
image, and on the orientation towards the next millennium in Norwegian
offshore industry and
Norwegian government agencies. These changes are profound, and offer a great
opportunity to
study organizational learning processes and outcomes in terms of knowledge
and action.

Time schedule

Data is currently being gathered. This work will continue for one year.
Compulsory courses and
papers will be completed this year. Scientific theory, where I focus on the
limits of relevant use
of AI in organization theory is already completed. Scientific method courses
were completed
in August '94. An article on organization learning theory, for a not yet
identified workshop or
conference, will be prepared in '94. 1995 and 1996 will be used to
complete my thesis. Dissertation is planned in 1996. The work is financed by
Western Norway
Research Institute and Statoil.