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Abandoning knowledge and behaviours

30 April 2013


In April 2013 the Darlington Campus hosted a knowledge exchange seminar organised by Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health which was jointly established by Teesside University.

Dr Crispin Coombs, Programme Director MSc Management, Senior Lecturer in Information Systems, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University spoke on ‘Abandoning knowledge and behaviours – Healthcare managers' experiences of unlearning’.

This was about the processes of abandoning or giving up established knowledge and practices, where this is necessary, to meet new challenges in the workplace.

Dr Coombs was invited because he is an experienced and successful leader within the Business School environment, undertaking management roles covering knowledge transfer partnerships, externally funded research projects and undergraduate visit and open days.

Among his main findings was that individual unlearning was relatively common for participants in the study he presented.

The catalysts for change were as likely to be a change event as individual experience. Individual experience (for example a patient death) was more likely to lead to cognitive unlearning, and change events (for example surrounding organisational re-structuring) more likely to lead to behavioural unlearning.

These experiences were not limited to clinicians moving to managerial roles but were relevant to all managers changing roles. A summary of his presentation is available on the Fuse website

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