Organizational learning, innovation and internationalization: a complex system model

Ricardo Chiva, Pervez Ghauri, Joaquín Alegre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Research on organizational learning, innovation and internationalization has traditionally linked these concepts through linear causality, by considering any one of them as the cause of another, an approach that might be considered contradictory and static. This paper aims to clarify these relationships and proposes a dynamic theoretical model that has mutual causality at its core and is based on ideas originating in complexity theory. The final model results from case studies of two clothing sector firms. The authors consider that the three concepts constitute a complex system and can adapt and transcend, as any alteration can take the system to the edge of chaos. Adaptability is fostered by concentration, improvement and discussion. Transcendence is fostered by attention, dialogue and inquiry. The different paces of the two case study companies led their systems to two different models: the incremental complex adaptive system model and the global complex generative system model. The incremental model is characterized by adaptive learning, incremental innovation and low internationalization; and the global system is characterized by generative learning, radical innovation and global internationalization. The paper ends with an exploration of the academic and management implications of the model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-705
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue number4
Early online date9 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


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