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Adaptive Coordination of a Learning Team


  • Pertti H. Lounamaa

    (Nokia Electronics)

  • James G. March

    (Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-5015)


Contemporary research on organizations has cast doubt on the extent to which organizations can be expected to adapt to their environments through rational, anticipatory action. Incremental experiential learning has been suggested as an alternative form of organizational intelligence, less demanding cognitively yet capable of considerable power. This paper examines such learning in the context of a model of a team involving two learning members, each of whom modifies beliefs about the other on the basis of experience, and an adaptive coordinator who adjusts a coordination control variable. It is shown that although learning is a powerful mechanism for improving organizational performance, it can often be confounded by the effects of attributional biases on the part of members, by the interactions of simultaneous learning by the members and the coordinator, and by errors in perceiving or interpreting experience. These complications lead to consideration of possible heuristics to overcome such learning liabilities. It is suggested that the effectiveness of incremental learning can often be improved by slowing the rate of learning and adaptation, by reducing the simultaneity of behavioral changes, and by scaling the size of the changes.

Suggested Citation

  • Pertti H. Lounamaa & James G. March, 1987. "Adaptive Coordination of a Learning Team," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 33(1), pages 107-123, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:33:y:1987:i:1:p:107-123

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    Cited by:

    1. Nooteboom, B., 2006. "Forms, Sources and Processes of Trust," Discussion Paper 2006-40, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    2. Jürgen Mihm & Christoph H. Loch & Dennis Wilkinson & Bernardo A. Huberman, 2010. "Hierarchical Structure and Search in Complex Organizations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(5), pages 831-848, May.
    3. Zucker, Lynne G. & Darby, Michael R., 1997. "Present at the biotechnological revolution: transformation of technological identity for a large incumbent pharmaceutical firm," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4-5), pages 429-446, December.
    4. Vinit Parida & Tom Lahti & Joakim Wincent, 2016. "Exploration and exploitation and firm performance variability: a study of ambidexterity in entrepreneurial firms," International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 1147-1164, December.
    5. Nooteboom, B., 2005. "Entrepreneurial Roles Along a Cycle of Discovery," Discussion Paper 2005-43, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    6. repec:dgr:rugsom:97b05 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:worbus:v:52:y:2017:i:6:p:782-797 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Mulotte, L., 2014. "Do experience effects vary across governance modes? Evidence from new product introduction in the global aerospace industry, 1948–2000," Other publications TiSEM 2c79d4d6-2b71-4160-9781-f, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    9. Pierre-Xavier Meschi & Emmanuel Metais, 2011. "Les firmes apprennent-elles de leurs échecs d’acquisition?," Revue Finance Contrôle Stratégie,, vol. 14(1), pages 69-100., March.
    10. Malen, Joel, 2015. "Motivating And Enabling Firm Innovation Effort: Integrating Penrosian And Behavioral Theory Perspectives On Slack Resources," Hitotsubashi Journal of commerce and management, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 49(1), pages 37-54, January.
    11. repec:pit:wpaper:382 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Olav Sorenson, 2003. "Interdependence and Adaptability: Organizational Learning and the Long--Term Effect of Integration," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(4), pages 446-463, April.
    13. Taudes, Alfred & Trcka, Michael & Lukanowicz, Martin, 2002. "Organizational learning in production networks," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 141-163, February.
    14. Larsen, Erik R. & Morecroft, John D. W. & Thomsen, Jesper S., 1999. "Complex behaviour in a production-distribution model," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 119(1), pages 61-74, November.
    15. Nooteboom, B., 2005. "Elements of a Cognitive Theory of the Firm," Discussion Paper 2005-46, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    16. Nooteboom, Bart, 1996. "Towards a cognitive theory of the firm : issues and a logic of change," Research Report 97B05, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    17. Jerker. Denrell & Christina. Fang & Daniel A. Levinthal, 2004. "From T-Mazes to Labyrinths: Learning from Model-Based Feedback," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(10), pages 1366-1378, October.
    18. Nooteboom, B., 2005. "Learning to Trust," Discussion Paper 2005-47, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    19. T. S. Raghu & P. K. Sen & H. R. Rao, 2003. "Relative Performance of Incentive Mechanisms: Computational Modeling and Simulation of Delegated Investment Decisions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(2), pages 160-178, February.
    20. Lionel Honoré, 2006. "Déviance et contrôle des comportements," Revue Finance Contrôle Stratégie,, vol. 9(2), pages 63-87, June.
    21. repec:bla:stratm:v:38:y:2017:i:5:p:1041-1061 is not listed on IDEAS


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