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Serendipity: why some organizations are luckier than others


  • Cunha, Miguel Pina e


Serendipity refers to the accidental discovery of something valuable. It is sometimes presented as an element of organizational learning but has been the object of scarce research. In this paper, I discuss the notion of serendipity in the organizational context, and elaborate a model of organizational serendipity. Four building blocks are considered: the conditions that facilitate serendipitous discovery, the search for a solution for a given problem, a process of bisociation leading to the combination of previously unrelated skills or information, and the discovery of an unexpected solution to a different problem. I also discuss what organizations can do to improve the chances of serendipity.

Suggested Citation

  • Cunha, Miguel Pina e, 2005. "Serendipity: why some organizations are luckier than others," FEUNL Working Paper Series wp472, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia.
  • Handle: RePEc:unl:unlfep:wp472

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Meyer, Klaus & Skak, Ane, 2002. "Networks, Serendipity and SME Entry into Eastern Europe," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 179-188, April.
    2. Jay B. Barney, 1986. "Strategic Factor Markets: Expectations, Luck, and Business Strategy," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 32(10), pages 1231-1241, October.
    3. Cooper, Robert, 1998. "Benchmarking new product performance:: Results of the best practices study," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1-17, February.
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    serendipity; search; bisociation; chance; accidental discoveries; unintentional learning;

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