Theoretical Framework

Organizational learning is a change in the organization’s knowledge that occurs as it acquires experience (Fiol and Lyles, 1985). Researchers have taken different approaches to assessing organizational learning and the knowledge that results from it. Taking a cognitive approach, researchers have measured organizational learning by assessing changes in the cognitions of organizational members (Huff and Jenkins, 2001). Taking a behavioral approach, researchers have studied how organizational routines or practices change as a function of experience (Gherardi, 2006; Levitt and March, 1988) or how characteristics of performance, such as speed or accuracy, change as a function of experience (Argote and Epple, 1990; Dutton and Thomas, 1984). Researchers have also measured knowledge by measuring characteristics of an organization’s patent stock (Alcacer and Gittleman, 2006) or products (Mansfield, 1985).

Learning occurs at different levels of analysis in organizations: individual, group, organizational, and inter-organizational. We focus on learning at the organizational level of analysis but include research on group learning that sheds light on organizational learning (for reviews on group learning, see Argote, Gruenfeld, and Naquin, 2001; Edmondson, Dillon, and Roloff, 2007). Research on group learning is relevant for understanding organizational learning because groups are basic building blocks of organizations (Leavitt, 1996). Understanding learning within and ...

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