Organizational Learning and the Sustainability Community of Practice

The Role of Boundary Objects

Suzanne Benn*, Melissa Edwards, Tamsin Angus-Leppan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)


This article aims to explore factors that influence organizational learning around sustainability. For our theoretical framework, we take a sensemaking approach to the multilevel 4I model of organizational learning. Through our pilot study of the case of the higher education sector in Australia, we explore the particular challenges that sustainability poses in terms of integrating new ideas at the group and organizational levels. Our findings suggest that the use of knowledge sharing and generation tools in the form of selected boundary objects can promote the development of communities of practice and hence those integration and institutionalization processes described by the 4I framework when it is applied to sustainability. In specifically allowing for knowledge development and transfer across knowledge and disciplinary boundaries, our revised version of the 4I model has wide relevance to learning around sustainability in any organizational context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-202
Number of pages19
JournalOrganization and Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • boundary objects
  • case study
  • change and learning
  • integrative learning
  • interorganizational learning
  • organizational learning
  • sensemaking
  • sustainability

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