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Deliberate learning and the evolution of dynamic capabilities

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This paper investigates the mechanisms through which organizations develop dynamic capabilities, defined as routinized activities directed to the development and adaptation of operating routines, and reflects upon 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 co-evolution of these learning mechanisms. At any point in time, firms adopt a mix of learning behaviors constituted by a semi-automatic 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, and testable hypotheses 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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