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Deliberate Learning and the Evolution of Dynamic Capabilities

Author

Listed:
  • Maurizio Zollo

    (Department of Strategy and Management, INSEAD, 77305 Fontainebleau, France)

  • Sidney G. Winter

    (The Wharton School, Department of Management, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104)

Abstract

This paper investigates the mechanisms through which organizations develop dynamic capabilities, defined as routinized activities directed to the development and adaptation of operating routines. It addresses the role of (1) experience accumulation, (2) knowledge articulation, and (3) knowledge codification processes in the evolution of dynamic, as well as operational, routines. The argument is made that dynamic capabilities are shaped by the coevolution of these learning mechanisms. At any point in time, firms adopt a mix of learning behaviors constituted by a semiautomatic accumulation of experience and by deliberate investments in knowledge articulation and codification activities. The relative effectiveness of these capability-building mechanisms is analyzed here as contingent upon selected features of the task to be learned, such as its frequency, homogeneity, and degree of causal ambiguity. Testable hypotheses about these effects are derived. Somewhat counterintuitive implications of the analysis include the relatively superior effectiveness of highly deliberate learning processes such as knowledge codification at lower levels of frequency and homogeneity of the organizational task, in contrast with common managerial practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Maurizio Zollo & Sidney G. Winter, 2002. "Deliberate Learning and the Evolution of Dynamic Capabilities," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 13(3), pages 339-351, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:13:y:2002:i:3:p:339-351
    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.13.3.339.2780
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    References listed on IDEAS

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