Knowledge Management Research & Practice

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 369–379 | Cite as

Learning capability: the effect of existing knowledge on learning



It has been observed that different people learn the same things in different ways – increasing their knowledge of the subject/domain uniquely. One plausible reason for this disparity in learning is the difference in the existing personal knowledge held in the particular area in which the knowledge increase happens. To understand this further, in this paper knowledge is modelled as a ‘system of cognitive schemata’, and knowledge increase as a process in this system; the effect of existing personal knowledge on knowledge increase is ‘the Learning Capability’. Learning Capability is obtained in form of a function, although it is merely a representation making use of mathematical symbolism, not a calculable entity. The examination of the function tells us about the nature of learning capability. However, existing knowledge is only one factor affecting knowledge increase and thus one component of a more general model, which might additionally include talent, learning willingness, and attention.


learning theory of knowledge knowledge model explicit knowledge knowledge context systems thinking 


  1. Ackoff RL (1971) Towards a system of systems concepts. Management Science 17 (11), 661–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baddeley AD (1994) The magical number seven: still magic after all these years? Psychological Review 101 (2), 353–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baddeley AD (1998) Working memory. Comptes Rendus de l’Academie des Sciences – Series III – Sciences de la Vie 321 (2–3), 167–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baddeley AD (2001) Is working memory still working? American Psychologist 56 (11), 851–864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baracskai Z (1999) A profi vezető nem használ szakácskönyvet [The Master of Leadership], “Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg megyei Könyvtárak” Egyesülés, Nyíregyháza, Hungary [in Hungarian].Google Scholar
  6. Bartlett SFC (1932/1967) Remembering: A Study in Experimental and Social Psychology, 2nd edn, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  7. Bateson G (1972/2000) Steps to an Ecology of Mind. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  8. Bateson G (1980) Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. Bantam Books, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  9. Boulding KE (1956) General systems theory: the skeleton of science. Management Science 2 (3), 197–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Boulding KE (1966) The economics of knowledge and the knowledge of economics. The American Economic Review 56 (1/2), 1–13.Google Scholar
  11. Boulding KE (1985) The World as a Total System. Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, CA.Google Scholar
  12. Capra F (1996) The Web of Life: A New Synthesis of Mind and Matter. Flamingo, London.Google Scholar
  13. Chase WG and Simon HA (1973) Perception in chess. Cognitive Psychology 4 (1), 55–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Checkland PB (1999a) Soft systems methodology: a 30-year retrospective. In Soft Systems Methodology in Action (CHECKLAND PB and SCHOLES J, Eds), pp A1–A66, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK.Google Scholar
  15. Checkland PB (1999b/2003) Systems Thinking, Systems Practice. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK.Google Scholar
  16. Csíkszentmihályi M (2002) Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 2nd edn, Rider, London.Google Scholar
  17. Davenport TH and Prusak L (2000) Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know, paperback edn, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  18. de Bono E (1976) Practical Thinking. Penguin Books, London, originally published 1973.Google Scholar
  19. Dörfler V (2003) The model of learning willingness. In Proceedings of the Fourth European Conference on Knowledge Management (McGRATH F and REMENYI D, Eds), pp 275–284, MCIL, Reading, UK.Google Scholar
  20. Dörfler V (2004) Factors of attention. In Proceedings of the Bangkok International Conference on Applied Business Research, BICABR, Bangkok, Thailand.Google Scholar
  21. Dörfler V and Szendrey J (2008) From knowledge management to cognition management: a multi-potential view of cognition. OLKC 2008: International Conference on Organizational Learning Knowledge and Capabilities, 28–30 April 2008, Copenhagen, Denmark. [WWW document] (accessed 30 May 2010).Google Scholar
  22. Dörfler V, Baracskai Z, Velencei J and Ackermann F (2008) Intuition: a new knowledge model for knowledge management. AoM 2008: The Sixty-seventh Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, 8–13 August 2008 Anaheim, CA. [WWW document] (accessed 30 May 2010).Google Scholar
  23. Dörfler V, Baracskai Z and Velencei J (2009) Knowledge levels: 3-D model of the levels of expertise. The Sixty-eighth Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, 7–11 August 2009, Chicago, IL. [WWW document] (accessed 30 May 2010).Google Scholar
  24. Ericsson KA (1996) The acquisition of expert performance: an introduction to some of the issues. In The Road to Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games (ERICSSON KA, Ed), Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ.Google Scholar
  25. Floridi L (2004) On the logical insolvability of the Gettier problem. Synthese 142 (1), 61–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gettier EL (1963) Is justified true belief knowledge? Analysis 23 (6), 121–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gobet F and Simon HA (1996a) Recall of random and distorted chess positions: implications for the theory of expertise. Memory & Cognition 24 (4), 493–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gobet F and Simon HA (1996b) Templates in chess memory: mechanism for re-calling several boards. Cognitive Psychology 31 (1), 1–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hofstadter DR (2000) Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, 2nd edn, Penguin Books, London.Google Scholar
  30. László E (1972) The Systems View of the World: The Natural Philosophy of the New Developments in the Sciences. George Braziller, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  31. László E (2001) A rendszerelmélet távlatai [Perspectives of System Theory], Magyar Könyvklub, Budapest, Hungary [in Hungarian].Google Scholar
  32. Maturana HR and Varela FJ (1979) Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, the Netherlands.Google Scholar
  33. MérŐ L (1990) Ways of Thinking: The Limits of Rational Thought and Artificial Intelligence. World Scientific, New Jersey, NJ.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. MérŐ L (1998) Moral Calculations: Game Theory, Logic, and Human Frailty. Springer-Verlag New York Inc., New York, NY.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Miller GA (1956) The magical number seven, plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information. The Psychological Review 63 (2), 81–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Minsky ML (1975) A framework for representing knowledge. In The Psychology of Computer Vision (WINSTON PH, Ed), pp 221–242, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  37. Neisser U (1967) Cognitive Psychology. Meredith Publishing, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  38. Plato (360 BC) Theaetetus [WWW document] (accessed 30 May 2010).
  39. Polanyi M (1962/2002) Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-critical Philosophy. Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  40. Prietula MJ and Simon HA (1989) The experts in your midst. Harvard Business Review 67 (January–February), 120–124.Google Scholar
  41. Prigogine I (1997) The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos and the New Laws of Nature. The Free Press, London.Google Scholar
  42. Rumelhart DE and Norman DA (1988) Representation in memory. In Stevens’ Handbook of Experimental Psychology (ATKINSON RC, HERRNSTEIN RJ, LINDZEY G and LUCE RD, Eds), 2nd edn, Vol. 2: Learning and Cognition), pp 511–587, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  43. Russell BA (1948/2003) Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits. Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  44. Simon HA (1974) How big is a chunk? Science 183 (4124), 482–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Simon HA (1976) The information storage system called “human memory”. In Models of Thought (SIMON HA, Ed), pp 62–83, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.Google Scholar
  46. Simon HA (1995) The information-processing theory of mind. American Psychologist 50 (7), 507–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Simon HA (1996) The Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd edn, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  48. Simon HA and Barenfeld M (1969) Information-processing analysis of perceptual processes in problem solving. Psychological Review 76 (5), 473–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Simon HA and Gilmartin K (1973) A simulation of memory for chess positions. Cognitive Psychology 5 (1), 29–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sveiby K-E (1997) The New Organizational Wealth: Managing & Measuring Knowledge-based Assets. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, CA.Google Scholar
  51. Tsoukas H (2005) Complex Knowledge: Studies in Organizational Epistemology. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  52. von Bertalanffy L (1969/2003) General System Theory: Foundations, Development, Applications, 14th paperback edn, George Braziller, New York, NY.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Operational Research Society 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of StrathclydeUK

Personalised recommendations