Learning orientations and growth in smaller firms
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KeywordsOrganisational learning performancePassive orientationActive orientationSmall manufacturing firmsHigh growth manufacturing firmsKnowledge assetsGrowthCompetitive market conditions
Organisational learning is often presented as one way in which firms may respond to increasingly competitive market conditions by managing their knowledge assets in more effective ways. Although theoretically and conceptually plausible, there is limited empirical evidence, particularly from smaller firms, in support of this view. This study aims to provide some evidence that links organisational learning and performance. Extant theory suggests that organisational learning may range from a passive orientation (working within a current paradigm) to an active orientation (questioning a current paradigm) at both the individual and the collective levels. This study examines the learning orientations of 300 smaller manufacturing and service firms in terms of an active¿passive learning construct. The results suggest that higher-growth manufacturing firms have a more active learning orientation. These firms make greater use of knowledge assets than do their lower growth counterparts, and this may have important implications for the management of learning in smaller manufacturing firms.