Can a City Manage Broadband Infrastructure? An Organizational Learning Perspective
29 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2012
Date Written: August 15, 2007
This research examines the organizational learning process in the context of municipalities learning to build and operate broadband wireless networks. We apply the concept of absorptive capacity to understand the link between prior experience, knowledge activities and performance improvement. We use comparative exploratory case studies, Chaska, Minnesota and Hermosa Beach, California to illustrate our points. This study contributes new knowledge to the absorptive capacity literature by providing a better understanding of how public organizations learn to acquire new knowledge and the influence of absorptive capacity on performance improvement. We also extend the absorptive capacity model by introducing constructs that influence absorptive capacity and performance supported by the qualitative data from interviews with key personnel and archival data. These constructs include the dynamic of technology development, partnership commitments, the roles of external knowledge and learning-by-doing, and politics. From a practical perspective, the study provides insights and learning lessons for cities that are in the process of planning and deployment. It also offers more realistic expectations around Wi-Fi deployment taking into consideration that the technology is not a plug and play technology and that considerable efforts are needed to integrate the technology with other solutions to deliver broadband Internet services as well as to configure the system according to topologies, street conditions, buildings, density of trees, among others.
Keywords: organizational learning, absorptive capacity, digital community, broadband, Wi-Fi, public organization
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