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How an unlearning context can help managers overcome the negative effects of counter-knowledge

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Management and Organization
Issue number2
Volume18
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)231-246
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Customer relations provide a valuable link between customers and the companies who produce the products they buy and the services they use. Every organisational member carries out actions which reflect the existence of counter-knowledge (i.e., obsolete knowledge and inappropriate knowledge structures) which in turn can lead to detrimental effects on customers.

A decision to reorientate counter-knowledge takes an extended period of time to produce significant results as this process involves the integration of existing capabilities with newly acquired knowledge. Crucially, however, it also involves the unlearning of capabilities which are no longer relevant. Unlearning is the process by which firms eliminate old logics and behaviours and make room for new ones.

With the development of this paper, we intend to address the following question: How can managers help to correct counter-knowledge in order to foster customer relations? These relationships are examined through an empirical investigation of 164 small and medium enterprises in the Spanish construction industry.

Our results show that an unlearning context (i.e., the examination of lens fitting, the framework for changing individual habits and the framework for consolidating emergent understandings) is an important solution for the process of counteracting the negative effects of counter-knowledge (e.g., misunderstandings and misconceptions). The results also shed light on a tangible means for managers to enhance customer relations through unlearning practices.