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Inside the Organizational Learning Curve:Understanding the Organizational Learning Process

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Inside the Organizational Learning Curve provides an in-depth understanding of the organizational learning curve and why significant differences in the rate of learning exist across organizations. Few studies have "stepped inside the learning curve" to provide greater understanding of the organizational learning process underlying the learning curve. We contend that this understanding is essential for helping organizations learn better and faster, and thus, operate more effectively and efficiently in a dynamic world. Therefore, not only do we examine what is known about organizational learning curves, but also what is known about the organizational learning process. By integrating research from both operations and organizational behavior disciplines, the authors provide a more comprehensive understanding of organizational learning and the organizational learning curve. Inside the Organizational Learning Curve is organized as follows. It begins by reviewing the definition of organizati nal learning and where it occurs in organizations. In Section 2, it shifts attention to its primary focus - the organizational learning curve. The authors review various learning curve models summarizing the evidence from these models, which shows tremendous variation in organizational learning rates. Section 3 reviews frameworks for understanding this variation in learning rates and discusses variation that arises from differences in experience, deliberate learning activities, and other key sources. Section 4 examines the relative effectiveness of experience versus deliberate learning activities as sources of learning, and contends that these sources of learning affect performance through a process. Section 5 describes the steps that characterize the learning process inside the learning curve: from learning to better organizational knowledge to changed behavior to organizational performance. The authors discuss the significant challenges organizations need to overcome in order to adv nce along these steps.