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The cost-quantity relations and the diverse patterns of "learning by doing": Evidence from India

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  • Giovanni Dosi
  • Marco Grazzi
  • Nanditha Mathew

Abstract

"Learning-by-doing" is usually identified as a process whereby performance increases with experience in production. The paper investigates different patterns of "learning by doing", studying learning curves at product level in a catching-up country, India. Cost-quantity relationships differ a lot across products belonging to sectors with different "technological intensities". We find also, puzzlingly, in quite a few cases, that the relation price / cumulative quantities is increasing. We conjecture that this is in fact due to quality improvement and 'vertical' product differentiation. Circumstantial evidence rests on the ways differential learning patterns are affected by firm spending on research and capital investments. Finally, our evidence suggests that "learning", or performance improvement over time is not a just by-product of the mere repetition of the same production activities, as sometimes reported in previous studies, but rather it seems to be shaped by deliberate firm learning efforts.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Dosi & Marco Grazzi & Nanditha Mathew, 2016. "The cost-quantity relations and the diverse patterns of "learning by doing": Evidence from India," LEM Papers Series 2016/26, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2016/26
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    Cited by:

    1. Dosi, Giovanni & Mathew, Nanditha & Pugliese, Emanuele, 2019. "What a firm produces matters: diversi cation, coherence and performance of Indian manufacturing," MERIT Working Papers 2019-013, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    2. Alhusen, Harm, 2020. "Experience-based know-how, learning and innovation in German SMEs: An explorative analysis of the role of know-how in different modes of innovation," ifh Working Papers 27/2020, Volkswirtschaftliches Institut für Mittelstand und Handwerk an der Universität Göttingen (ifh).
    3. Arie Y Lewin & Silvia Massini & Carine Peeters, 2020. "Absorptive capacity, socially enabling mechanisms, and the role of learning from trial and error experiments: A tribute to Dan Levinthal’s contribution to international business research," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 51(9), pages 1568-1579, December.
    4. Matthias Aistleitner & Claudius Graebner & Anna Hornykewycz, 2020. "Theory and Empirics of Capability Accumulation: Implications for Macroeconomic Modelling," ICAE Working Papers 105, Johannes Kepler University, Institute for Comprehensive Analysis of the Economy.
    5. Lafond, Francois & Greenwald, Diana & Farmer, J. Doyne, 2020. "Can stimulating demand drive costs down? World War II as a natural experiment," MPRA Paper 100823, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Salvador Pueyo, 2019. "Limits to green growth and the dynamics of innovation," Papers 1904.09586, arXiv.org, revised May 2019.
    7. Francesco Lamperti & Mariana Mazzucato & Andrea Roventini & Gregor Semieniuk, 2019. "The Green Transition: Public Policy, Finance, and the Role of the State," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 88(2), pages 73-88.
    8. Giovanni Dosi & Matteo Tranchero, 2018. "The Role of Comparative Advantage, Endowments and Technology in Structural Transformation," LEM Papers Series 2018/33, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    9. Mathew, Nanditha & Paily, George, 2020. "STI-DUI innovation modes and firm performance in the Indian capital goods industry: Do small firms differ from large ones?," MERIT Working Papers 2020-008, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    10. Giovanni Dosi & Nanditha Mathew & Emanuele Pugliese, 2019. "What a firm produces matters: diversification, coherence and performance of Indian manufacturing firms," LEM Papers Series 2019/10, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    11. Sandeep D. Pillai & Brent Goldfarb & David A. Kirsch, 2020. "The origins of firm strategy: Learning by economic experimentation and strategic pivots in the early automobile industry," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(3), pages 369-399, March.
    12. Liu, Yang & Lv, Diwei & Ying, Ying & Arndt, Felix & Wei, Jiang, 2018. "Improvisation for innovation: The contingent role of resource and structural factors in explaining innovation capability," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 74, pages 32-41.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Learning-by-doing; learning curves; product innovation; process innovation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • L6 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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