Organizational Memory
(Walsh Ungson)

Knowledge Center

   

Information retention, acquisition, and retrieval in an organization. Explanation of Organizational Memory of Walsh and Ungson. ('91)

Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Forum
  3. Best Practices
  4. Expert Tips
  5. Resources
  6. Print

Organizational Memory (Walsh, Ungson)

What is Organizational Memory? Description

The Organizational Memory method from Walsh and Ungson is a technique that can be used for information retention, acquisition, and retrieval in an organization.

Walsh and Ungson suggest that the structure of organizational memory can be classified within six information "storage bins":

  • Individuals,
  • Culture (stories, mental models),
  • Transformations (the various processes and procedures),
  • Structures (roles within the organization),
  • Ecology (physical setting of the organization), and
  • External archives (information documentation).

Organizational memory refers to stored information from an organization that can be used for current decisions. It is not centrally stored, but distributed across different facilities where it is retained.
The model helps HRM managers to improve an organization's chances to exploit better its memory potential, by shaping and influencing these memory locations.

Origin of Organizational Memory. History

There are several modern scholars who publish work regarding organizational memory. But it is clear that the origins of this concept are based upon the work of early twentieth-century scholars such as Durkheim and Vygotsky. According to Wexler (2002), the notion of organizational memory originates from the work of Durkheim and his protégé and was built upon the concept of collective memory. Spender (1996) claims that organizational memory is inextricably linked to the work of Vygotsky and social construction theory. He offers the argument that socially embedded activity preceded the development of individual consciousness (p. 71). Walsh and Ungson (1991) cite the work of March and Simon (1958), who posit that the memory of an organization or institution can be housed in policies and procedures. This retention characteristic can also result in negative consequences. Walsh and Ungson (1991) also cite the work of Starbuck and Hedberg (1977), who claim that structured artifacts such as roles can do harm to an institution, when they lose their efficacy over time and actually become impediments to change.


Usage of the Organizational Memory model. Applications

  • Human Resources
  • Knowledge Management

Strengths of the Organizational Memory concept. Benefits

  • Gives a simple framework for guiding HR efforts in improving knowledge management.
  • Allows institutions to benefit from historical information and from learnings. Despite the transient nature of organizational membership (Berthon, Pitt & Ewing, 2001).
  • Can serve as a competitive advantage (Wexler, 2002; Croasdell, 2001).
  • Can actually reduce transaction costs (Croasdell, 2001).
  • Can serve a political role in organizations. This can have both positive and negative implications (Walsh and Ungson, 1991).

Limitations of Organizational Memory. Disadvantages

  • A too high emphasis on organizational memory can disable learning in an organization, causing rigidity and blindness: companies no longer notice changes in the environment.
  • Organizational memory is a function of an institution's age, size and success (Sinkula, 1994; Lukas, Hult and Ferrell, 1996; and Berthon, Pitt and Ewing, 2001).
  • Prior history may cause habitual decision making and in Single-loop learning (Berthon, Pitt and Ewing, 2001).
  • Artifacts such as roles and organizational structure, that are stored within the culture of institutions, may also become impediments to change (Walsh and Ungson, 1991).

Assumptions of the Organizational Memory model. Conditions

  • According to Walsh and Ungson (1991), when you think about organizational memory, you must consider three critical factors: retention, acquisition, and retrieval.

Organizational Memory Forum
  Organisational Memory Blocks Innovation
I have found that memory is always the worst deterrent for accepting new challenges - for welcoming new recruits, new ideas.
Memory is good only for history writers - in an ever changing market environment it is good only for old timers t...
     
 

Organizational Memory Special Interest Group


Special Interest Group

Organizational Memory Education & Events


Find Trainings, Seminars and Events


Best Practices - Organizational Memory Premium

Expert Tips - Organizational Memory Premium
 

Barriers that Hinder Effective Knowledge Sharing

According to Chris Collison, there are seven common barriers or syndromes that hinder effecti...
Usage (application): Effective Knowledge Sharing, Pitfalls to Avoid, Knowledge Management Implementation
 
 
 

Strategies to Change Employee Habits, Hearts and Heads

According to J.E. Kee and K.E. Newcomer ("Why Do Change Efforts Fail? What Can Leaders Do About It?", The Public Manager, Fall 2008), the key to chang...
Usage (application): Changing Organization Cultures
 
 
 

How to Identify and Map Knowledge

In his article “Knowledge Mapping: The Essentials for Success”, Wesley Vestal provides following six tips to identify and map knowledge:
1. Defin...
Usage (application): Knowledge Identification, Knowledge Capturing, Knowledge Storage
 
 
 

Pitfalls and Best Practices in Culture Change

According to Jon Katzenbach and Ashley Harshak ("Stop Blaming Your Culture", strategy+business, Spring 2011, Issue 62), following myths of culture cha...
Usage (application): Changing Organizational Cultures, What to DO and what NOT
 
 
 

Critical Activities to Build a Learning Organization

Learning organizations are distinguished because they are undertaking certain activities to foster the internal learning process. Those activities inc...
Usage (application): Implementing Organizational Learning, Best Practices
 
 
 

Knowledge Management Scope

Research by Deishin Lee (HBS) and Eric Van den Steen (MIT) shows that recording mediocre know-how can actually be counter-productive, since such medio...
Usage (application): Knowledge Management, Level of Know-how
 
 
 

Knowledge Management Focal Point

Research by Deishin Lee (HBS) and Eric Van den Steen (MIT) shows that information about successes is typically more useful than information about fail...
Usage (application): Knowledge Management Focus
 
 
 

PROs and CONs of a Strong Corporate Culture

Implementing a significant change is generally easier when the corporate culture is not strong. By strong Corporate Culture is meant that values an...
Usage (application): Corporate Culture Change, Change Management, Organizational Change
 
 

Resources - Organizational Memory Premium

Organizational Forgetting and Memory

This presentation elaborates on the concept of organizational memory, and includes the following sections:
1. Introduction
2. Knowledge Mana...
Usage (application): Organizational Memory, Organizational Forgetting
 

How to Integrate Internal Organizational Knowledge with External Online Communities

Due to many online and web-based technological developments in today´s digital economy, sharing knowledge in online communities has become increasingl...
Usage (application): Knowledge Management, Knowledge Creation, Knowledge Sharing, Interaction, Knowledge in Organizations
 

Three Levels of Knowledge Management

According to Jury (2007), knowledge management can be categorized into three different levels, and organized in a pyramid form, in which the highest l...
Usage (application): Initial Understanding Knowledge Management, Organizational Learning
 

Knowledge Management Systems Architecture

This presentation is about knowledge development and management, including the following sections:
1. Overview
2. Knowledge creation
3....
Usage (application): Knowledge Management, Knowledge Creation, Knowledge Systems, Knowledge Architecture
 

Introduction Into Organizational Memory

Introduction into Organizational Memory, including the following sections:
1. Organizational Memory (OM): definition
2. Assumptions of OM Usage (application): Organizational Memory
 

Organizational Memory Diagram

Download and edit this 12manage PowerPoint graphic for limited personal, educational and business use. Republishing in intranets, websites, books, ma...
Usage (application): Information Management
 
 

News

Organizational Memory
     
 

News

Knowledge Management
     
 

Videos

Organizational Memory
     
 

Videos

Knowledge Management
     
 

Presentations

Organizational Memory
     
 

Presentations

Knowledge Management
     
 

More

Organizational Memory
     
 

More

Knowledge Management
     

Compare with Organizational Memory: Bridging Epistemologies  |  SECI model  |  Knowledge Management (Collison & Parcell)  |  Five Disciplines  |  Organizational Learning  |  Mechanistic and Organic Systems  |  Action Learning  |  Levels of Culture  |  Changing Organization Cultures  |  People CMM  |  MAGIC


Return to Management Hub: Human Resources  |  Knowledge & Intangibles


More Management Methods, Models and Theory

Special Interest Group Leader

You here


About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us | Privacy | Terms of Service
Copyright 2016 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V14.1 - Last updated: 9-12-2016. All names tm by their owners.