Inderscience Publishers

Learning processes features: how do they influence inter-firm differences in technological capability-accumulation paths and operational performance improvement? [1]

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The focus of this paper is how key features of the underlying learning processes influence inter-firm differences in technological capability-accumulation paths and, in turn, operational performance improvement in the latecomer context. This set of relationships is examined in two large steel companies in Brazil over their lifetimes of 40 and 60 years. The framework for learning identifies four processes: external and internal knowledge-acquisition, knowledge socialisation and knowledge codification. These processes are examined on the basis of four features: variety, intensity, functioning, and interaction. The study has found that the paths of technological capability accumulation followed by the two case-study companies were diverse and have each proceeded at differing rates over time across different technological functions. These differences were strongly associated with the four features of the learning processes. In addition, the different rates at which the two companies have improved their key operational performance indicators were strongly associated with their rate of technological capability accumulation and, in turn, the key features of their learning processes. The study suggests that the rates of technological capability accumulation and operational performance improvement can be accelerated if deliberate and effective efforts on knowledge-acquisition and knowledge-conversion processes are made within the company.

Keywords: technological capability accumulation paths, learning processes features, operational performance improvement

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