In this chapter, Raghu Garud and Peter Karnoe discuss learning cycles from the perspective of complexity theory, suggesting that when complexity is a problem, bricolage may be a solution.
Among organizational scholars, there is a growing appreciation of the complexities associated with the emergence of technological fields. At one level, complexity is manifest in the artifacts that constitute the technological system. At another, complexity is manifest in the interactions between agents with diverse perspectives. At a deeper level, however, complexity resides in the generative forces or rules that shape manifest phenomena.
Given complexity, and indeed because of it, it is very likely that agents operating within a technological field will adopt different approaches to guide their choices and behaviors based on beliefs of what is and what is not possible. These approaches can have dramatically different consequences as initial choices become amplified through learning processes that generate knowledge in a recursive manner. Consequently, questions that become important are, How do agents constituting a technological field confront complex phenomena, what learning processes do they engage in, and what are the consequences of their choices?