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Abstract

Extant organizational learning theory conceptualizes organizational learning as an internal, member-based process, sometimes supported by, yet often independent of, IT. Recently, however, several organizations have begun to involve non-members systematically in their learning by using crowdsourcing, a form of open innovation enabled by state-of-the-art IT. We examine the phenomenon of IT-enabled organizational learning with crowdsourcing in a longitudinal revelatory case study of one such organization, LEGO (2010-14). We studied the LEGO Cuusoo crowdsourcing platform’s secret test in Japan, its widely recognized global launch, and its success in generating top-selling LEGO models. Based on an analysis of how crowdsourcing contributes to the organizational learning at LEGO, we propose the “ambient organizational learning” framework. The framework accommodates both traditional, member-based organizational learning and IT-enabled, non-member-based organizational learning with crowdsourcing.

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