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The third culture: organisational learning in international joint ventures

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journal contribution
posted on 07.06.2017, 03:51 by Berrell, Mike, Gloet, Marianne
Studies in organisational learning generally accept the existence of two 'cultures' within an organisation - the 'systems' culture (the first culture) and the 'organisational' culture (the second culture). However, cultural influences of a social anthropological nature in international joint ventures (JVs) have a significant but often underrated impact on organisational learning and can be thought of as the 'third culture'. Using three generic stages in the organisational learning process, viz. knowledge acquisition, knowledge dissemination, and knowledge utilisation, the influence of the third culture is discussed using examples drawn from collaboration in Malaysia with the management structure comprising Australians and Malays. The paper argues at a conceptual level that while all JVs engage in knowledge acquisition, the dissemination and subsequent utilisation of that knowledge is frequently affected by the third culture. Unless knowledge about the third culture becomes an integral component of organisational learning in JVs, the potential for competitive advantage derived from an offshore operation may be significantly reduced. Furthermore, knowledge of the third culture can be developed as a core competency of JVs.


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Working paper series (Monash University. Department of Management).

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