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Individual Experience and Experience Working Together: Predicting Learning Rates from Knowing Who Knows What and Knowing How to Work Together

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Author Info

  • Ray Reagans

    ()
    (Graduate School of Business, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027)

  • Linda Argote

    ()
    (Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213)

  • Daria Brooks

    (Northwestern University Hospital and Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois 60614)

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    Abstract

    Learning by doing represents an important mechanism through which organizations prosper. Some firms, however, learn from their experience at a dramatic rate, while other firms exhibit very little learning at all. Three factors have been identified that affect the rate at which firms learn: (a) the proficiency of individual workers, (b) the ability of firm members to leverage knowledge accumulated by others, and (c) the capacity for coordinated activity inside the organization. Each factor varies with a particular kind of experience. An increase in cumulative individual experience increases individual proficiency. An increase in cumulative organizational experience provides individuals with the opportunity to benefit from knowledge accumulated by others. An increase in cumulative experience working together promotes more effective coordination and teamwork. To gain insight into factors responsible for the learning curve, we examine the contribution of each kind of experience to performance, while controlling for the impact of the other two. The study context is a teaching hospital. The task is a total joint replacement procedure, and the performance metric is procedure completion time. We find that each kind of experience makes a distinct contribution to team performance. We discuss the implications of our findings for the learning-by-doing framework in general, and learning in the team context in particular.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1050.0366
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 51 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 6 (June)
    Pages: 869-881

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:51:y:2005:i:6:p:869-881

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    Related research

    Keywords: experience-based learning; learning by doing; organizational learning; social networks; transactive memory systems;

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    Cited by:
    1. Jonathan R. Clark & Robert S. Huckman & Bradley R. Staats, 2013. "Learning from Customers: Individual and Organizational Effects in Outsourced Radiological Services," NBER Working Papers 18723, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Geisler, Eliezer, 2007. "The metrics of knowledge: Mechanisms for preserving the value of managerial knowledge," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 467-477.
    3. Julian Dormann & Thomas Ehrmann & Michael Kopel, 2008. "Managing the Evolution of Cooperation," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2008-01, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    4. 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.
    5. Bercovitz, Janet & Feldman, Maryann, 2011. "The mechanisms of collaboration in inventive teams: Composition, social networks, and geography," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 81-93, February.
    6. von Hippel, Eric & Franke, Nikolaus & Prügl, Reinhard, 2009. "Pyramiding: Efficient search for rare subjects," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 1397-1406, November.
    7. Davis, Lee N. & Davis, Jerome & Hoisl, Karin, 2009. "What Inspires Leisure Time Invention?," Discussion Papers in Business Administration 10457, University of Munich, Munich School of Management.
    8. Wouters, Marc & Wilderom, Celeste, 2008. "Developing performance-measurement systems as enabling formalization: A longitudinal field study of a logistics department," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 33(4-5), pages 488-516.
    9. Huesch, Marco D., 2011. "Is blood thicker than water? Peer effects in stent utilization among Floridian cardiologists," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(12), pages 1756-1765.
    10. Taedong Lee & Susan Meene, 2012. "Who teaches and who learns? Policy learning through the C40 cities climate network," Policy Sciences, Springer, vol. 45(3), pages 199-220, September.
    11. Marco D. Huesch & Mariko Sakakibara, 2009. "Forgetting the learning curve for a moment: how much performance is un related to own experience?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(7), pages 855-862.
    12. Michaël Bikard & Fiona E. Murray & Joshua Gans, 2013. "Exploring Tradeoffs in the Organization of Scientific Work: Collaboration and Scientific Reward," NBER Working Papers 18958, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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