An Epigenetic View of Organizational Cultures, Learning, and ...

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  • Title: An Epigenetic View of Organizational Cultures, Learning, and Memory in Dynamic Environments
  • Author(s): Brad Kleindl, William Kleindl, Peter Kleindl
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Organization Studies
  • Journal Title: Organizational Cultures: An International Journal
  • Keywords: Cultural Evolution, Epigenetics, Epigenetic Response, Generalized Darwinist Evolution Theory, Meme, Organizational Culture, Organizational Knowledge, Organizational Learning, Organizational Memory
  • Volume: 23
  • Issue: 2
  • Date: May 04, 2023
  • ISSN: 2327-8013 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-932X (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Kleindl, Brad, William Kleindl, and Peter Kleindl. 2023. "An Epigenetic View of Organizational Cultures, Learning, and Memory in Dynamic Environments." Organizational Cultures: An International Journal 23 (2): 1-30. doi:10.18848/2327-8013/CGP/v23i02/1-30.
  • Extent: 30 pages

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Darwinian evolutionary concepts have been used to understand both biological changes over time in response to a changing environment and as a theory development base for social and organizational change over time, also in response to a changing environment. The underlying mechanism of a biological species’ response to the environment occurs at the gene, DNA, and epigenetic levels. This article provides an overview of how epigenetic mechanisms and related epigenetic inheritance can add to the understanding of how organizational entities respond to environmental stressors. Epigenetics adds to the theory base for organizational change through adaptive responses, organizational culture self-repairing tendencies, and the inheritance of organizational memory to environmental responses over time. The article will first outline organizational culture, learning, knowledge, and memory theories and an organization’s related responses to the environment. This will be followed by an overview of the biomechanical processes of evolution and how evolution theories have been used to explain organizational responses to environmental changes. The article will then cover epigenetic theory and the related mechanisms within the genes where DNA acts as a memory structure for adaptive change. Finally, parallels between organizational theory and epigenetic theory will be drawn with recommendations for future research.