Re: Intro -- Diane Weston LO162

Mariann Jelinek (
Sat, 18 Feb 1995 17:32:30 -0500

Replying to LO131:

Hi, Diane,
Interesting to hear of your path and activities: more to hear of
your interest in cog psych - learning organization links. By a quite
different path and from another starting point, I, too, have arrived at
the cognitive psych gateway. For the past roughly four years, my research
partner & I have been working on cognitive approaches to organization
theory and strategy. First, we observed that traditional org. theory was
essentially predicated as if there were no people - when, discernibly,
it's people that make up the organization. Next, we found substantial
changes taking place in real organizations as people struggled with
structures that didn't serve them, didn't assist them in accomplishing
useful goals, and indeed mostly got in the way. What they did instead was
to focus on solving problems and identifying means to make themselves into
what we called "Real Time Organizations." A key element: they learned as
they went, and they sought deliberately to capture and share their
learning. Furthermore, those who learned were "everybody," not just senior
managers. Finally, what enabled people to do this, and to coordinate their
activities over time and space, were shared cognitions: thoughts in synch,
brought into consonance and repeatedly refreshed in that harmony by some
traditional managerial tools (used in a distinctively NONtraditional
We are still working on this, but a version is available in:
Jelinek, M. and J.A. Litterer, Toward A Cognitive Theory of Organizations,
in Advances in Managerial Cognition, C. Stubbart, J. Meindl, and J. Porac,
Editors. 1994, JAI Press: Greenwich, CT. It's clear that Senge, systems
theory, strategy thinking and cognitive approaches have much to say about
organizations. I'll look for your comments!


Mariann Jelinek
Richard C. Kraemer Professor of Business
Graduate School of Business,
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23185

Tel. (804) 221-2882 FAX: (804) 229-6135