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Interorganizational Learning: Where are we now and where is research taking us?

Special issue call for papers from The Learning Organization

Interorganizational learning:
Where are we now and where is research taking us?

Special issue of The Learning Organization

Edited by

Jacob Brix, Aalborg University, Denmark

The decision for organizations to open up and search for outside knowledge – or to create new knowledge together with external partners – can be investigated from many theoretical perspectives. This special issue is dedicated to advance our current understanding of this important phenomena from an interorganizational learning perspective. The argument is that interorganizational learning is increasingly becoming a relevant theme because of its potential: it is recognized to create opportunities and outcomes that individual organizations cannot leverage and achieve by themselves (Bruneel et al., 2010; Schulz and Geithner, 2010; Peronard and Brix, 2019). This potential is relevant not only for private organizations (van Winkelen, 2010; Holmqvist, 2004; Argote, 2011; Martins, 2016; OECD, 2018) but also because of global tendencies such as the increase in collective impact projects (Kania and Kramer, 2011) and increase in co-production activities stemming from the Collaborative Governance wave (Bevir, 2013; Brandsen et al., 2018; Krogstrup and Brix, 2019). Based on this premise, it is more important than ever to study interorganizational learning and also its connection to organizational learning. More precisely, a better understanding is needed of how knowledge is created, transferred and intertwined between and within organizations to create value; both for the individual organization and its partners (Holmqvist, 2003; Greve, 2005; Werr and Runsten, 2013; Brix, 2017). Studying the organizing around the processes of exploration and exploitation and the roles required by the people taking part in this ‘two-level-game’ is hence important (Beeby and Booth, 2000; Holmqvist, 2004; Jones and MacPherson, 2006; Mariotti, 2012; Peronard and Brix, E-pub ahead of print).

This special issue welcomes papers that are dedicated to interorganizational learning. These could e.g. investigate following themes:

•    The role of exploration and exploitation in interorganizational learning
•    The transition between exploration and exploitation processes in interorganizational learning
•    Sensemaking and sensegiving in interorganizational learning
•    Interorganizational learning between start-ups and established organizations
•    Interorganizational learning from (international) R&D projects
•    Interorganizational learning in public service development, co-production and/or innovation
•    Absorptive and desorptive capacities in interorganizational learning
•    Studies of successful, disappointing or failed projects related to interorganizational learning

Inclusion criteria

The criteria for being included in this special issue is that the papers must advance or challenge our understanding of interorganizational learning theory and if possible its link(s) to organizational learning. Priority is given to empirical studies that utilize qualitative research strategies or mixed methods. Conceptual papers are also welcomed.
All manuscripts must follow the TLO author guidelines:

Maximum impact

To provide opportunity for maximum impact for the contributing authors, accepted papers will be given a full DOI number and become available online at The Learning Organization’s Earlycite webpage until the full issue is published. The special issue is expected to be published early 2021. Submissions are welcomed until the deadline 31 May 2020.

About the guest editor

Jacob Brix is Associate Professor of Innovation and Organizational Learning. He is employed at the ‘Department of Learning and Philosophy’ at Aalborg University in Denmark where he is member of the ‘Research Group for Capacity Building and Evaluation’. Jacob holds a double degree PhD in Innovation and Learning from Aarhus University and the Danish Technological Institute. His work is published in e.g. The Learning Organization, Scandinavian Journal of Management, Int. J. of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Energy Research & Social Science, and Journal of Organization Design. Jacob can be contacted at 


Argote, L. (2011), ”Organizational learning research: Past, present and future”, Management learning, Vol. 42 No. 4, pp. 439-446.

Beeby, M. and Booth, C. (2000), “Networks and inter-organizational learning: a critical review”, The Learning Organization, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 75-88.

Bevir, M. (Ed.). (2013). The SAGE Handbook of Governance. Sage, London, United Kingdom.

Brandsen, T., Steen, T. and Verschuere, B. (Eds.) (2018). Co-production and Co-creation: Engaging Citizens in Public Services. Routledge, London, United Kingdom.

Brix, J. (2017), ”Exploring knowledge creation processes as a source of organizational learning: A longitudinal case study of a public innovation project”, Scandinavian Journal of Management, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 113-127.

Bruneel, J., Yli‐Renko, H. and Clarysse, B. (2010), ”Learning from experience and learning from others: how congenital and interorganizational learning substitute for experiential learning in young firm internationalization”, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 164-182.

Greve, H.R. (2005), ”Interorganizational learning and heterogeneous social structure”, Organization Studies, Vol. 26 No. 7, pp. 1025-1047.

Holmqvist, M. (2003), “A dynamic model of intra-and interorganizational learning”, Organization Studies, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 95-123.

Holmqvist, M. (2004), “Experiential learning processes of exploitation and exploration within and between organizations: An empirical study of product development”, Organization Science, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 70-81.

Kania, J. and Kramer, M. (2011), “Collective impact”. Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter Issue, pp.36-41.

Krogstrup, H. K. and Brix, J. (2019), ”Co-produktion i den Offentlige Sektor: Brugerinvolvering i Kvalitetsudvikling”, Hans Reitzels Forlag, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Martins, J. T. (2016), “Relational capabilities to leverage new knowledge: Managing directors’ perceptions in UK and Portugal old industrial regions”, The Learning Organization, Vol. 23 No. 6, pp. 398-414.

Mariotti, F. (2012), ”Exploring interorganizational learning: a review of the literature and future directions”, Knowledge and Process Management, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 215-221.

Peronard, J. P. and Brix, J. (E-pub ahead of print), “Organizing for inter-organizational learning in service networks”, The Learning Organization, Vol.x No.y, pp.000-000. Available at: (Accessed 06 December 2018).

Schulz, K. P. and Geithner, S. (2010), ”Between exchange and development: organizational learning in schools through inter-organizational networks”, The Learning Organization, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 69-85.

van Winkelen, C. (2010), “Deriving value from inter-organizational learning collaborations”, The Learning Organization, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 8-23.

Werr, A. and Runsten, P. (2013), “Understanding the role of representation in interorganizational knowledge integration: A case study of an IT outsourcing project”, The Learning Organization, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 118-133.