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Doktorander samlade på gruppbild

All the PhD students gathered on the first day of the conference.

- Everything from PhD students to professors have met on a common level to discuss developments in organizational learning and knowledge development. Discussions and reflections have flourished in various contexts, says a satisfied Ann Svensson, professor of informatics at University West and responsible for the conference.

She continues:

- The humble attitude that has characterized the conference has spread both through the fact that juniors have "dared" to develop their ideas and that the researchers have generally been able to develop their reasoning in their presentations.

The conference "Organisational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities" (OLKC) this year had the theme "Learning future workforce capabilities for global sustainability". During the conference, both PhD students who are in postgraduate training and senior researchers met. During the first day of the conference, the focus was on PhD students and overall presented 16 doctoral students their ongoing research and had the opportunity for input and new thoughts from experienced researchers as well as other PhD students.

A friendly and inviting atmosphere

Day two and three included a variety of optional parallel presentations of ongoing research. One of those who presented her research was Kristina Eriksson, docent at the Department of Engineering at University West.

- It feels like a very successful conference. I presented a paper and it felt like a lot of people had really read it and I got great feedback. In addition, it is a very friendly and inviting atmosphere.

Kristina's presentation was focused on lifelong learning and had the title May the force of lifelong learning be with you – Sustainable organizational learning in higher education to meet company needs in industry.

Omelet recipes provided a common thread

In addition to all these parallel presentations, two joint main lectures with so-called key notes were also held. One of the keynote speakers was Clay Spinuzzi, who is a Professor of rhetoric and writing at The University of Texas at Austin in the USA. His research concerns research methods and methodology, workplace research and data-mediated activities. He lectured on the theme Sustaining and resonating knowledge.

Foto på Clay Spinuzzi

One of two key notes were Clay Spinuzzi, Professor of rhetoric and writing at The University of Texas at Austin in the USA.

As a common thread in his lecture, there was an example of how to learn to make an omelet via a recipe and how to build knowledge in different ways, based on three parts.

Initially, he showed an example with only a text-based recipe, written with rather small text in a cookbook from the past and how we could still understand from what was written there how to make an omelet. That we can take this to heart is because we are familiar with how a recipe is constructed through proven experience (Abstract – symbolic).

In step two, Clay showed how the recipe is now made as a story, with step-by-step photos showing how to make and more. We understand and learn by being shown via images as a story (Narrative).

In step three, there is also a video included in the recipe where we learn by doing the cooking together with the chef and get described to us, for example, how the texture should feel. This expands understanding and knowledge even more (Embodied).

These three steps show different kinds of knowledge and how we can understand and how knowledge is re-represented. Clay Spinuzzi also talked about examples from working life that could be divided in a similar way, whether it concerned, for example, a medical diagnosis or traffic safety.

Focus on AI in keynote speakers

Alongside Clay Spinuzzi, Margunn Aanestad from the University of Agder in Norway was also the keynote speaker at the conference. She spoke about understanding the impact that Artificial Intelligence, AI, has on learning in organizations, how AI affects the work in organizations when they develop their AI skills and how learning in workplaces is affected when AI is introduced.


Two examples of research presentations - "Paper sessions"

Two of University West's 13 researchers and PhD students who presented ongoing research were Ellinor Torsein from the Department of Economics and IT and Ritva Rosenbäck from the Department of Engineering.

Relationship learning in focus

Ellinor Torsein's topic was Relationship learning: learning in supplier - customer relationships. She talked about a book project that had been created at her department by employees of the business administration department, in order to get a grasp of what research is going on there in economics that is connected to the university's profile Work Integrated Learning. Her study aims to gather knowledge about how companies' inter-organizational relationships affect learning in the workplace. She wants to identify which gaps exist in research for future research.

Relationship learning is a joint activity between customer and retailer that occurs because both parties create more value together than they would on their own. It's about sharing information and forming a joint sense-making that you then build on.

Ellinor talked about the state of research in the field and pointed to weaknesses and problem areas that she had identified so far, as well as what future research content she saw a need for.

Ellinor's conclusion so far is that more research is needed, especially about what is learned, when is it learned and who is learning it. She has high hopes that this will be an important part in the development of learning.

Foto på Ellinor Torsein i en föreläsningssal.

Ellinor Torsein presenting her research on Relationship learning.

About crisis management in healthcare

Ritva Rosenbäck's presentation was about an ongoing study on crisis management in healthcare - Crisis management learning for leaders in public healthcare. In the study, nearly 40 managers were interviewed who held leading positions in departments affected by the covid pandemic in hospital care. The focus of the study is on learning and crises with the help of two case studies. The studies have been carried out partly in a medium-sized hospital with emergency care in a large region where there were early and serious outbreaks of covid and partly in a medium-sized hospital with fewer and later cases of the disease.

Foto på Ritva Rosenbäck i en föreläsningssal.

Ritva Rosebäck about crisis managament in healthcare.

Ritva uses the framework developed by Boin et al. (2005) on crisis leadership in the study. The framework focuses on three of the core tasks – Sense making, Decision making and Meaning making – that are relevant to explaining the role of public leaders during the ongoing crisis. She presents excerpts from the study and discusses them. Something that becomes clear is the importance of trust. For example, that a freedom to make decisions increases the transfer of knowledge and initiates new thinking and that daily meetings increase organizational learning.

Next year the conference will be held in May in Riga, Latvia.

Contact: Ann Svensson, responsible for this year's conference at University West,