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Deliberate Learning and the Evolution of Dynamic Capabilities

Maurizio Zollo and Sidney G. Winter
Organization Science
Vol. 13, No. 3, Knowledge, Knowing, and Organizations (May - Jun., 2002), pp. 339-351
Published by: INFORMS
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3086025
Page Count: 13
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Deliberate Learning and the Evolution of Dynamic Capabilities
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Abstract

This paper investigates the mechanisms through which organizations develop dynamic capabilities, defined as routinized activities directed to the development and adaptation of operating routines. It addresses the role of (1) experience accumulation, (2) knowledge articulation, and (3) knowledge codification processes in the evolution of dynamic, as well as operational, routines. The argument is made that dynamic capabilities are shaped by the coevolution of these learning mechanisms. At any point in time, firms adopt a mix of learning behaviors constituted by a semiautomatic accumulation of experience and by deliberate investments in knowledge articulation and codification activities. The relative effectiveness of these capability-building mechanisms is analyzed here as contingent upon selected features of the task to be learned, such as its frequency, homogeneity, and degree of causal ambiguity. Testable hypotheses about these effects are derived. Somewhat counterintuitive implications of the analysis include the relatively superior effectiveness of highly deliberate learning processes such as knowledge codification at lower levels of frequency and homogeneity of the organizational task, in contrast with common managerial practice.

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