IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The mythology of learning-by-doing in World War II airframe and ship production

Listed author(s):
  • Don Scott-Kemmis
  • Martin Bell
Registered author(s):

    Between the 1940s and 1960s, studies of aircraft and ship production during World War II (WWII) gave rise to the concept of 'learning-by-doing'. This proved to be an influential and long lived idea. It has been embedded in micro-level analyses concerned with firm level management and in macro analyses underpinning numerous fields of policy – ranging trade and industry policy in developing countries to policy options for addressing global climate change. While its empirical basis has been questioned, the basic features of the idea continue to be widely used, and the claimed validity continues to be sustained by reference to the WWII studies. This paper reviews those studies. It demonstrates that they provide little empirical support for these policy applications. A long overdue effort should be made to develop a much more empirically grounded understanding of the various innovation and technical change processes that have been obscurely bundled together in the learning-by-doing idea.

    If 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.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Inderscience Enterprises Ltd in its journal Int. J. of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 1-35

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:ids:ijtlid:v:3:y:2010:i:1:p:1-35
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ids:ijtlid:v:3:y:2010:i:1:p:1-35. 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: (Darren Simpson)

    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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.