IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Heterogeneities in energy technological learning: Evidence from the U.S. electricity industry


  • Shittu, Ekundayo
  • Kamdem, Bruno G.
  • Weigelt, Carmen


While the role of organizational learning in improving firm performance is well documented, there are still questions on what drives technological learning. This is evident in the electricity industry where the growth of renewable energy technologies has been pervasive. Vicarious learning contributes to the adoption of emerging technologies through successful inter-firm knowledge sharing and transfer. However, there is hesitation to adoption that characterizes vicarious learning especially in the context of intra-firm learning. This paper investigates the differences in knowledge acquisition within and across electricity firms in the U.S. The learning curve model is applied to a longitudinal study of 5573 plants belonging to 1542 U.S. electricity firms between 1998 and 2010. This study finds: (i) The capacity growth of the solar photovoltaic technology is positively associated with intra-firm knowledge acquisition; (ii) The effect of financial incentives on the adoption of solar and wind technologies is higher under inter-firm learning; (iii) The higher the stringency of policy mandates, the more varied is the progress on technological change across technologies; (iv) Knowledge sharing between firms are higher for wind technology than for solar technology. These findings combine to show disparities in the learning trends of technologies across and within firms’ boundaries.

Suggested Citation

  • Shittu, Ekundayo & Kamdem, Bruno G. & Weigelt, Carmen, 2019. "Heterogeneities in energy technological learning: Evidence from the U.S. electricity industry," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 1034-1049.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:132:y:2019:i:c:p:1034-1049
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2019.06.052

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Massimo G. Colombo & Keld Laursen & Mats Magnusson & Cristina Rossi-Lamastra, 2011. "Organizing Inter- and Intra-Firm Networks: What is the Impact on Innovation Performance?," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(6), pages 531-538, August.
    2. Willard I. Zangwill & Paul B. Kantor, 1998. "Toward a Theory of Continuous Improvement and the Learning Curve," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(7), pages 910-920, July.
    3. Kira R. Fabrizio, 2013. "The Effect of Regulatory Uncertainty on Investment: Evidence from Renewable Energy Generation," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 765-798, August.
    4. Menz, Fredric C. & Vachon, Stephan, 2006. "The effectiveness of different policy regimes for promoting wind power: Experiences from the states," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(14), pages 1786-1796, September.
    5. Erin Baker & Meredith Fowlie & Derek Lemoine & Stanley S. Reynolds, 2013. "The Economics of Solar Electricity," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 5(1), pages 387-426, June.
    6. Eric D. Darr & Linda Argote & Dennis Epple, 1995. "The Acquisition, Transfer, and Depreciation of Knowledge in Service Organizations: Productivity in Franchises," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(11), pages 1750-1762, November.
    7. Joel A. C. Baum & Paul Ingram, 1998. "Survival-Enhancing Learning in the Manhattan Hotel Industry, 1898--1980," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(7), pages 996-1016, July.
    8. Fuentelsaz, Lucio & Gomez, Jaime & Polo, Yolanda, 2003. "Intrafirm diffusion of new technologies: an empirical application," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 533-551, April.
    9. Eric Guerci & Stefano Ivaldi & Silvano Cincotti, 2008. "Learning Agents in an Artificial Power Exchange: Tacit Collusion, Market Power and Efficiency of Two Double-auction Mechanisms," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 32(1), pages 73-98, September.
    10. Ekundayo Shittu & Erin Baker, 2009. "A control model of policy uncertainty and energy R&D investments," International Journal of Global Energy Issues, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 32(4), pages 307-327.
    11. Michael Greenstone, 2002. "The Impacts of Environmental Regulations on Industrial Activity: Evidence from the 1970 and 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments and the Census of Manufactures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1175-1219, December.
    12. Ghosh, Arghya & Kato, Takao & Morita, Hodaka, 2007. "Discrete Innovation, Continuous Improvement, and Competitive Pressure," IZA Discussion Papers 3132, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Epstein, Larry G, 1980. "Decision Making and the Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(2), pages 269-283, June.
    14. Eric Guerci & Stefano Ivaldi & Silvano Cincotti, 2008. "Learning Agents in an Artificial Power Exchange: Tacit Collusion, Market Power and Efficiency of Two Double-auction Mechanisms," Post-Print halshs-00871014, HAL.
    15. Jun Ishii, 2006. "From Investor-owned Utility to Independent Power Producer," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 65-90.
    16. Jeffrey Q. Barden, 2012. "The influences of being acquired on subsidiary innovation adoption," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(11), pages 1269-1285, November.
    17. Brennan, Timothy J., 2003. "State and Federal Roles in Facilitating Electricity Competition: Legal and Economic Perspectives," Discussion Papers 10802, Resources for the Future.
    18. Brennan, Timothy, 2003. "State and Federal Roles in Facilitating Electricity Competition: Legal and Economic Perspectives in the Electricity Sector," Discussion Papers dp-03-24, Resources For the Future.
    19. Paul Willman & David Coen & David Currie & Martin Siner, 2003. "The evolution of regulatory relationships; regulatory institutions and firm behaviour in privatized industries," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 69-89, February.
    20. Dennis Epple & Linda Argote & Kenneth Murphy, 1996. "An Empirical Investigation of the Microstructure of Knowledge Acquisition and Transfer Through Learning by Doing," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 44(1), pages 77-86, February.
    21. Rubin, Edward S. & Azevedo, Inês M.L. & Jaramillo, Paulina & Yeh, Sonia, 2015. "A review of learning rates for electricity supply technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 198-218.
    22. Baker, T.E. & Epiney, A.S. & Rabiti, C. & Shittu, E., 2018. "Optimal sizing of flexible nuclear hybrid energy system components considering wind volatility," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 212(C), pages 498-508.
    23. David, Paul A. & Bunn, Julie Ann, 1988. "The economics of gateway technologies and network evolution: Lessons from electricity supply history," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 165-202.
    24. Bolinger, Mark & Wiser, Ryan, 2009. "Wind power price trends in the United States: Struggling to remain competitive in the face of strong growth," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 1061-1071, March.
    25. Balconi, Margherita, 2002. "Tacitness, codification of technological knowledge and the organisation of industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 357-379, March.
    26. Ali Akkemik, K., 2009. "Cost function estimates, scale economies and technological progress in the Turkish electricity generation sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 204-213, January.
    27. Ilka Deluque & Ekundayo Shittu & Jonathan Deason, 2018. "Evaluating the reliability of efficient energy technology portfolios," EURO Journal on Decision Processes, Springer;EURO - The Association of European Operational Research Societies, vol. 6(1), pages 115-138, June.
    28. Erin Baker, 2009. "Optimal Policy under Uncertainty and Learning about Climate Change: A Stochastic Dominance Approach," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 11(5), pages 721-747, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Claudio Vitari & Aurelio Ravarini & Bernard Fallery, 2006. "The Kms Recommending Experts In The Communities: Proposition Of A Theory On Their Success," Post-Print halshs-01924301, HAL.
    2. Fascia, Michael, 2019. "The role of religious experience in the knowledge transfer process," OSF Preprints bm7s3, Center for Open Science.
    3. Linda Argote & Henrich R. Greve, 2007. "A Behavioral Theory of the Firm ---40 Years and Counting: Introduction and Impact," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(3), pages 337-349, June.
    4. Ebers Broughel, Anna, 2019. "Impact of state policies on generating capacity for production of electricity and combined heat and power from forest biomass in the United States," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 1163-1172.
    5. Gopesh Anand & John Gray & Enno Siemsen, 2012. "Decay, Shock, and Renewal: Operational Routines and Process Entropy in the Pharmaceutical Industry," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(6), pages 1700-1716, December.
    6. Moren Lévesque & Maria Minniti & Dean Shepherd, 2009. "Entrepreneurs’ Decisions on Timing of Entry: Learning from Participation and from the Experiences of Others," Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, , vol. 33(2), pages 547-570, March.
    7. Tat Y. Chan & Jia Li & Lamar Pierce, 2014. "Learning from Peers: Knowledge Transfer and Sales Force Productivity Growth," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 33(4), pages 463-484, July.
    8. Li, Wen & Guo, Bin & Xu, Gangxiang, 2017. "Making the next move: When does the newness of experience matter in overseas sequential entries of multinational companies?," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 908-926.
    9. Toft-Kehler, Rasmus & Wennberg, Karl & Kim, Phillip H., 2014. "Practice makes perfect: Entrepreneurial-experience curves and venture performance," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 453-470.
    10. Rulke, Diane Liang & Zaheer, Srilata & Anderson, Marc H., 2000. "Sources of Managers' Knowledge of Organizational Capabilities," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 134-149, May.
    11. Carolyn D. Egelman & Dennis Epple & Linda Argote & Erica R.H. Fuchs, 2013. "Learning by Doing in a Multi-Product Manufacturing Environment: Product Variety, Customizations, and Overlapping Product Generations," NBER Working Papers 19674, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Balint, T. & Lamperti, F. & Mandel, A. & Napoletano, M. & Roventini, A. & Sapio, A., 2017. "Complexity and the Economics of Climate Change: A Survey and a Look Forward," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 252-265.
    13. Crago, Christine L. & Koegler, Eric, 2018. "Drivers of growth in commercial-scale solar PV capacity," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 481-491.
    14. Vidya Mani & Suresh Muthulingam, 2019. "Does Learning from Inspections Affect Environmental Performance? Evidence from Unconventional Well Development in Pennsylvania," Service Science, INFORMS, vol. 21(1), pages 177-197, January.
    15. Epiney, A. & Rabiti, C. & Talbot, P. & Alfonsi, A., 2020. "Economic analysis of a nuclear hybrid energy system in a stochastic environment including wind turbines in an electricity grid," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 260(C).
    16. Glauber, Johanna & Kretschmer, Tobias, 2018. "Learning from failure across products," CEPR Discussion Papers 13140, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Hart E. Posen & John S. Chen, 2013. "An Advantage of Newness: Vicarious Learning Despite Limited Absorptive Capacity," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(6), pages 1701-1716, December.
    18. Luca Berchicci & Glen Dowell & Andrew A. King, 2017. "Environmental Performance and the Market for Corporate Assets," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(12), pages 2444-2464, December.
    19. Susan F. Lu & Gerard J. Wedig, 2013. "Clustering, Agency Costs and Operating Efficiency: Evidence from Nursing Home Chains," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(3), pages 677-694, May.
    20. Christoph Riedl & Victor P. Seidel, 2018. "Learning from Mixed Signals in Online Innovation Communities," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 29(6), pages 1010-1032, December.

    More about this item


    Technological learning; Policy; Knowledge acquisition; Electricity industry;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:132:y:2019:i:c:p:1034-1049. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Haili He). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.