The concept of ‘Unlearning’ (from an organisational point of view) was first formally described by Hedberg, Nystrom & Starbuck (we believe) more than 30 years ago in their paper ‘Camping on See-saws: Prescriptions for a Self-designing Organization’, for Administrative Science Quarterly, 21(1): 41–6. [* see note below]
However, scroll forward to 2016 for an update and expansion of the idea from Dr Cheryl Brook [pictured] and colleagues at the University of Portsmouth, UK.
“The dominant view of unlearning has it as the discarding or forgetting of obsolete or redundant knowledge.”
”We challenge this by arguing that this perspective is only part of the picture; that unlearning can also open up new possibilities for ‘not knowing’ and ‘non-action’.”
See: ‘On stopping doing those things that are not getting us to where we want to be: unlearning, wicked problems and critical action learning’ in Human Relations, February 2016 vol. 69 no. 2, pp.369-389.
* Note: According to the authors ‘Unlearning’ actually began, but was not recognized as such, as far back as 1964. See the section entitled ‘Unlearning Yesterday’.
Also see: Towards Knowledge Neutralization