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An Empirical Investigation of the Microstructure of Knowledge Acquisition and Transfer Through Learning by Doing

Author

Listed:
  • Dennis Epple

    (Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

  • Linda Argote

    (Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

  • Kenneth Murphy

    (Florida International University, Boca Raton, Florida)

Abstract

Does knowledge acquired through learning by doing on one shift transfer to a second shift when it is introduced at a manufacturing plant? The answer to this question has important theoretical implications about where knowledge is embedded in organizations and about sources of productivity growth. The answer also has important practical implications for managers planning to introduce additional facilities. This paper analyzes the amount of transfer across shifts at a manufacturing facility. Specifically, we analyze the amount of knowledge that is carried forward when the plant makes the transition from one to two shifts. We also investigate whether the rate of knowledge acquisition differs by shift, and we estimate the amount of transfer that occurs across shifts once both are in operation. In addition, we study transfer over time by analyzing whether knowledge acquired through learning by doing is cumulative and persists through time or whether it depreciates.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:oropre:v:44:y:1996:i:1:p:77-86
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/opre.44.1.77
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:sbusec:v:49:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11187-016-9811-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List & Chad Syverson, 2013. "Toward an Understanding of Learning by Doing: Evidence from an Automobile Assembly Plant," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(4), pages 643-681.
    3. Peter Thompson, 2007. "How Much Did the Liberty Shipbuilders Forget?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(6), pages 908-918, June.
    4. Thompson, Peter, 2010. "Learning by Doing," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    5. Spanjer, Anne, 2017. "The impact of experience on the behavior and performance of self-employed and entrepreneurs. Three empirical studies," Other publications TiSEM 6684507a-1de9-47b5-9da7-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    6. Guy David & Tanguy Brachet, 2011. "On the Determinants of Organizational Forgetting," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 100-123, August.
    7. Tonya Boone & Ram Ganeshan, 2008. "Knowledge acquisition and transfer among engineers: effects of network structure," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(5), pages 459-468.
    8. Steven Levitt & John List & Chad Syverson, 2012. "Toward an Understanding of Learning by Doing: Evidence from an Automobile Plant," Natural Field Experiments 00463, The Field Experiments Website.
    9. Lucia Piscitello & Larissa Rabbiosi, 2005. "The impact of inward FDI on local companies' labour productivity: evidence from the Italian case," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 35-51.
    10. 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.
    11. Spanjer, Anne & van Witteloostuijn, Arjen, 2017. "The entrepreneur's experiential diversity and entrepreneurial performance," Other publications TiSEM c613c681-b545-4660-ad6a-4, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    manufacturing; performance/productivity: learning by doing; organizational studies; productivity: organizational learning; technology: technology transfer;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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