Formal and informal interorganizational learning within strategic alliances
Learning behaviors of employees can be either formalized (in the form of programmed events and visits) or informal (in the form of spontaneous interaction and knowledge sharing). We investigate the effect that both types of learning behaviors have on interorganizational learning of substantive knowledge in the context of an alliance. We also look at the effects that the two forms of learning behavior have on each other. We find that while informal learning behaviors have a consistently positive effect on the learning outcome and on formal learning behaviors, this is not so for formal learning behaviors. The effect of formal behaviors on both learning outcome and informal behaviors, while positive, diminishes at higher levels. This leads us to conclude that although both informal and formal learning behaviors foster interorganizational learning, too much formalization obstructs learning. Similarly, while formally programmed behaviors do encourage informal learning behaviors of the boundary spanners, an excess of formalization stifles them.
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