Who matters for memory: Sources of institutional memory in international organization crisis management
Scholarship on organizational learning has explored how international organizations (IOs) reform but has paid little attention to the origins of institutional memory. For IOs engaged in crisis management operations, acquiring knowledge about strategic errors is necessary for adopting reforms that could save lives. This study seeks to identify the sources that affect whether or not IO elites will contribute knowledge to an IO’s institutional memory in crisis management. The study employs a survey experiment in the field on 120 NATO elites who decide on and plan operations. Findings indicate that when the United States introduces knowledge of a strategic error, NATO elites are significantly less likely to share it. This deterrent effect on knowledge-sharing illustrates an unexpected way in which the US influences international crisis management. The study also finds that an IO’s secretariat can somewhat increase elites’ likelihood of contributing to the IO’s institutional memory.