Unlearning at the Individual Level: An Exploratory Case Study in a High Power Distance Country


Julieta Kaoru Watanabe Wilbert
Susanne Durst
Helio Aisenberg Ferenhof
Paulo Selig


This paper presents a case study that addresses factors that influence unlearning at the individual level. These factors were studied in a public sector organization located in a country characterized by high power distance. The case organization went through a change process of a daily routine caused by the introduction of a new technology. Data were collected through semi structured face-to-face interviews with shop floor agents in the state of Santa Catarina/Brazil. The results highlight the strong influence of the support of formal leaders on the unlearning process of individuals, suggesting that managers operating in a high power distance environment have to make bigger efforts compared to their counterparts in small power distance settings to promote unlearning processes of employees. The study advances the limited body of knowledge regarding unlearning in general and unlearning at the individual level in particular. It also stresses the influence of the national cultural dimension on the unlearning process of individuals.