George L. Roth
Biographical Sketch and Research Interests
George Roth (email@example.com) is a member of the research staff at the MIT 21st Century
Initiative. He directs the learning history project and conducts other research on
organizational learning and change. He has taught courses at Sloan (15.974 Investigating
Organizational Culture, Learning and Change) which combine organizational learning skills
with research methods, sending students off outside the classroom to practice their own
learning skills and conduct masters thesis studies on company improvements initiatives. To
help his students, George is continually on the lookout for companies interested in
supporting and learning from Sloan Masters student thesis research projects.
George's current research is in the area of how managers in organizations effectively
build and sustain large-scale improvement initiatives. His current research interests
examine issues associated with organizational change from several different approaches:
- Learning Histories: How can documentation be used to capture, assess, facilitate,
diffuse and sustain organizational improvement initiatives. Recent papers include
characteristics of documents that support learning, and the process by which learning
histories are conducted.
- Large Scale System Change: Issues in moving from team-based change efforts to
organizational or system level change. Without moving team-based changes to organizational
levels - across teams - change initiatives are not sustained. Recent papers examine
empirical issues which have been found as challenging in organizational learning projects.
Work in progress examines dilemmas faced by CEÒs and top level managers in maintaining
improvement initiatives which might produce results, yet are not fully understood and run
counter to existing norms of boards and other top managers.
- Technological Change: Technology provides an occasion for change, yet
organizations do not create mechanisms for effective change in implementing new
technology. Dissertation research found Structuring waves of technological change -
meaning that the confluence of the varied frameworks held by the different organizational
subcultures responsible for implementing and using new technology could not be examined as
the change process rolled out to the organization. Recent paper examines the issues
organizations faces in examining the social context in realizing the benefits of
- Educational Interventions in Organizational Learning: Organizational learning
processes depend upon individual learning processes taking place in organizational
setting. Examining the construction of educational programs that build the capability of
individuals for their own learning and facilitating learning with others is a recent
approach for organizational transformation. Data from the MIT OLC Core Competencies of a
Learning Organization Five Day course and Leading Learning Communities Nine Month Program
informs this work in progress.
- Business Process Learning: A new research area based on an action research
approach to build better business processes based on developing people's capabilities to
think differently about their work and business processes. Traditional re-engineering
approaches are conducted by teams which examine, analyze and redesign business processes
on behalf of those who work in them. A learning approach to business process redesign
would teach people techniques and skills in conceptualizing and analyzing the business
processes they are part of, and base changes (their insight) on their proposed designs
(their new actions). The new effort seeks to integrate various research activities at
various MIT research centers (Microworlds and simulation from Systems Dynamics, Process
Handbook from Center for Coordination Sciences and learning tools from Center for
Organizational Learning) with field based research involving company reengineering teams
George's activities outside of his research at MIT include consulting and speaking. He
is a co-founder of Reflection Learning Associates, Inc. (P.O. Box 1405, Kendall Square,
Cambridge, Ma 02142; tel/fax 617/643-0582; Email: Rlearning@aol.com). Reflection Learning
Associates is a consulting firm specializing in learning histories and scenarios, and more
generally in developing processes and an infrastructure that helps organizations in
reflecting on their past, learning in the moment, and carrying new insights into creating
desired collective futures.
George had over ten years experience in industry prior to beginning an academic career.
In a variety of engineering and marketing management positions at Digital Equipment, he
developed new products, planned product strategy, managed sales operations, designed
business development programs, and created and managed an internal entrepreneurship
George holds a Ph.D. degree in Organizational Studies, an MBA degree in finance and
marketing, and a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is certified in group
facilitation by National Training Laboratories. Born in Germany, George has also lived and
worked in Europe throughout his career. He resides outside Cambridge, Massachusetts with
his wife and two energetic daughters.