Learning by Doing Something Else: Variation, Relatedness, and the Learning Curve
AbstractMany organizational learning studies have an implicit assumption that the learning rate is maximized through specialization: the more an individual or organization focuses on a particular task, the faster it will improve. However, through contrasting the various learning process theories described in the research on organizational, group, and individual learning, we develop a set of competing hypotheses that suggest some degree of variation might improve the learning rate. Furthermore, such comparison yields competing arguments about how related or unrelated such task variation should be to improve the learning rate. This research uses an experimental study to answer the following research questions: Is the learning rate maximized through specialization? Or does variation, related or unrelated, enhance the learning process? We find that the learning rate under conditions of related variation is significantly greater than under conditions of specialization or unrelated variation, indicating the possibility of synergy between related learning efforts consistent with an implicit learning or insight effect. We find no significant differences in the rates of learning under the conditions of specialization and unrelated variation. These results yield important implications for how work should be organized, and for future research into the learning process.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.
Volume (Year): 49 (2003)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
learning curve; group learning; organizational learning; insight; transfer of learning; absorptive capacity; specialization; variation; implicit learning;
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Lettl, Christopher & Rost, Katja & von Wartburg, Iwan, 2009. "Why are some independent inventors 'heroes' and others 'hobbyists'? The moderating role of technological diversity and specialization," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 243-254, March.
- Yongchuan Bao & Shibin Sheng & Kevin Zhou, 2012. "Network-based market knowledge and product innovativeness," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 309-324, March.
- Fioretti, Guido, 2007. "The organizational learning curve," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 177(3), pages 1375-1384, March.
- Robert S. Huckman & Bradley R. Staats, 2008. "Variation in Experience and Team Familiarity: Addressing the Knowledge Acquisition-Application Problem," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-035, Harvard Business School.
- Schilling, Melissa A. & Green, Elad, 2011. "Recombinant search and breakthrough idea generation: An analysis of high impact papers in the social sciences," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 1321-1331.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mirko Janc).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.