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The Persistence and Transfer of Learning in Industrial Settings


  • Linda Argote

    (Graduate School of Industrial Administration, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213)

  • Sara L. Beckman

    (University of California, Berkeley, California 94720)

  • Dennis Epple

    (Graduate School of Industrial Administration, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213)


The persistence of learning within organizations and the transfer of learning across organizations are examined on data collected from multiple organizations. Results indicate that knowledge acquired through production depreciates rapidly. The conventional measure of learning, cumulative output, significantly overstates the persistence of learning. There is some evidence that learning transfers across organizations: organizations beginning production later are more productive than those with early start dates. Once organizations begin production, however, they do not appear to benefit from learning in other organizations. The implications of the results for a theory of organizational learning are discussed. Managerial implications are described.

Suggested Citation

  • Linda Argote & Sara L. Beckman & Dennis Epple, 1990. "The Persistence and Transfer of Learning in Industrial Settings," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(2), pages 140-154, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:36:y:1990:i:2:p:140-154
    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.36.2.140

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