Murray, Peter A., Syed, Jawad and Roberts, Zeynep (2009) Structures of learning for dynamic markets. Management Decision, 47 (2). pp. 271-288. ISSN 0025-1747

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to understand why structures of learning underpin the creation of competencies that allow firms to compete more successfully in dynamic markets. The paper seeks to challenge the idea that, in the absence of learning, capabilities are the main source of competitive advantage.

Design/methodology/approach – First, the paper discusses the relationships between competencies, learning, and dynamic markets. Second, a preliminary analysis is conducted of the learning routines of 118 top sales managers. The results are compared with three different structures of learning, allowing conclusions to be drawn about learning in dynamic markets.

Findings – The study illustrates that a number of dynamic learning routines are not evident in the sales environments of dynamic markets. The findings suggest that firms are not well placed to renew routines from inside-out and to respond to market dynamics. The patterns of integration among individuals and groups, however, seem to be well represented, reflecting higher-level learning routines.

Research limitations/implications – The empirical findings offered here are of a preliminary nature. Future researchers might usefully apply the typology of learning structures to examine in more detail the empirical links established. Studies might also examine organisational learning in a variety of industrial and consumer-based contexts.

Originality/value – The idea that learning structures (rather than capabilities themselves) are the basis of competencies that enable a firm to better respond to dynamic markets is a useful and novel approach.

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