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Learning from Samples of One or Fewer

Author

Listed:
  • James G. March

    (Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305)

  • Lee S. Sproull

    (Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215)

  • Michal Tamuz

    (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903)

Abstract

Organizations learn from experience. Sometimes, however, history is not generous with experience. We explore how organizations convert infrequent events into interpretations of history, and how they balance the need to achieve agreement on interpretations with the need to interpret history correctly. We ask what methods are used, what problems are involved, and what improvements might be made. Although the methods we observe are not guaranteed to lead to consistent agreement on interpretations, valid knowledge, improved organizational performance, or organizational survival, they provide possible insights into the possibilities for and problems of learning from fragments of history.

Suggested Citation

  • James G. March & Lee S. Sproull & Michal Tamuz, 1991. "Learning from Samples of One or Fewer," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 2(1), pages 1-13, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:2:y:1991:i:1:p:1-13
    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.2.1.1
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc.2.1.1
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