The purpose of this paper is to examine how one firm – the British Shoe Corporation – eventually failed because, as a result of the strength of its predominant managerial mental model it fell into a number of exploitative learning capability traps.
The paper uses a contemporary historical case study approach. This allows for a longitudinal study of the phenomenon. It examines the core concepts involved before moving on to consider the task environment in which the company operated, the origins and nature of its predominant managerial mental model, its performance over its lifetime and how and why it fell into the various capability learning traps.
The study found that the firm's predominant managerial mental model had a significant impact on its capability learning. It argues that to prevent other firms falling into these sorts of traps they should adopt scenario planning and seek out internal asymmetries.
The study is limited in that it only considers one specific case. More studies of the same sort need to be carried out before the findings can be considered generalisable. Again much more research is needed into the process of seeking out internal asymmetries, a recently developed concept with very little written on it.
The paper provides advice on ways to prevent firms falling into the same sorts of learning traps as the British Shoe Corporation.
The paper is original in that it relates the problem of falling into capability learning traps to the predominant managerial mental model of the organisation. It provides a practical example of the phenomenon and discusses practical strategies that other firms can adopt to avoid suffering the same outcome.
Harrison, J. and Boyle, E. (2006), "Falling into capability learning traps: The role of the firm's predominant managerial mental models", Management Decision, Vol. 44 No. 1, pp. 31-43. https://doi.org/10.1108/00251740610641445Download as .RIS
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