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Spinuzzi iwac2008 - learning to cross boundaries


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From the 2008 International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference

Published in: Business, Technology
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Spinuzzi iwac2008 - learning to cross boundaries

  1. 1. Learning to cross boundaries: <ul><li>Clay Spinuzzi, University of Texas at Austin </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>Vertical and horizontal learning in interpenetrated organizations
  2. 2. Spinuzzi, Clay. (2008, in press.) Network: Theorizing knowledge work in telecommunications . New York: Cambridge University Press.
  3. 3. Telecorp > 300 workers 20 functional groups high turnover rapid expansion multiple fields, trades
  4. 4. <ul><li>Long-term or lifelong jobs </li></ul><ul><li>Steady contacts with other organizations and public </li></ul><ul><li>Linear development of expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Clearly defined roles </li></ul><ul><li>Vertical expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Organizational, disciplinary, trade boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>Interior vs. exterior </li></ul>Traditional work
  5. 5. But ... <ul><li>Downsizing </li></ul><ul><li>Automation </li></ul><ul><li>Flattening of work hierarchies </li></ul><ul><li>Proliferating intercompany relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Continual reorganization </li></ul><ul><li>Breaking down of “silos”/ “stovepipes” </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in telecommunications , making it possible to connect any two points in the organization </li></ul>
  6. 6. “ Interpenetrated” Anyone can link up with anyone else inside or outside the organization, and consequently any work activities can be intersected. *
  7. 7. Horizontal expertise Learning across organizational boundaries. <->
  8. 8. coordinative polycontextual cross-disciplinary spliced transformative Net work
  9. 9. Dimension Learning context Techniques Vertical Within functional groups Apprenticeship; formal Telecorp training sessions; trial and error; stories; documentation Vertical Within trades, disciplines, fields Computer-based training; corporate training outside Telecorp Horizontal Across functional groups Trial and error, stories, apprenticeship Horizontal Across organizations Trial and error, stories, apprenticeship
  10. 10. <ul><li>Apprenticeship : participating in an activity, first peripherally, then with increasing responsibility (Lave & Wenger). </li></ul><ul><li>The most frequently mentioned form of training (51 of 84 interviews; 20 of 23 functional areas) </li></ul><ul><li>Contingency based: Shadowing, work reviews. </li></ul>Apprenticeship: “You never ever do a partial connection”
  11. 11. <ul><li>Attempting to complete a task through self-directed exploration. </li></ul><ul><li>Entirely contingency-based. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Sink or swim”; “thrown to the wolves.” </li></ul><ul><li>Resulted in limited stable knowledge passed by word of mouth. </li></ul>Trial-and-Error: “Willing to get your hands dirty”
  12. 12. <ul><li>Specific stories about how things went wrong. </li></ul><ul><li>The case of Rex. </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasized contingencies, provided resources to deal with them. </li></ul><ul><li>Oral, ephemeral. </li></ul>Stories: “There was nothing about a dog on the ticket.”
  13. 13. A need for formal horizontal learning structures and practices beyond contingency and reactive stances conferring stability and circulation and built into genres and systems Implications