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Does organizational learning differ in manufacturing and service firms? Evidence from Mexico

Rodrigo Garza Burgos (Department of Operations Management, Universidad Panamericano Instituto Panamericano de Alta Direccion de Empresa, Mexico City, Mexico)
James P. Johnson (Crummer Grad School of Business, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, USA)
Misty L.L. Loughry (Crummer Graduate School of Business, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, USA)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 10 September 2021

Issue publication date: 26 July 2022

454

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate organizational learning (OL) at the individual, group and organizational levels in service and manufacturing firms in Mexico to determine if there are differences in how OL operates or in the link between OL and firm performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors surveyed experienced managers from 1,093 Mexican firms across a range of service and manufacturing industries, using the Strategic Learning Assessment Map (Bontis et al., 2002).

Findings

Organizational learning processes (OLPs) were highly similar in service and manufacturing firms and OL had a strong positive association with performance in both types of firms. OLPs at the individual level had a slightly greater impact on performance for service firms.

Research limitations/implications

The results provide further evidence of the strong link between OL and firm performance. There were no significant correlations of firm size or age with the OLPs or firm performance. However, the micro-companies that constitute 95% of Mexican firms were under-represented in the sample.

Practical implications

OLPs are equally important in manufacturing and service firms and across developed and developing economies. Therefore, OL should pervade all organizations. Managers should create cultures that encourage employees to produce new ideas and share those ideas with peers and supervisors through both formal and informal communication processes.

Social implications

The findings indicate that the individual employees’ contributions to OL are the main driver of the impact of OLPs on firm performance and that individual-level learning processes are even more relevant for service firms than for manufacturing firms. As value co-production takes place simultaneously at the moment of the service delivery/service consumption, the individual learning stock is fundamental for enhanced firm performance.

Originality/value

The authors believe this to be the first large-scale study to compare OLPs in manufacturing and service firms across industries in a major emerging market.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Support for this research was provided by IPADE Business School, Mexico City, Mexico.

Citation

Garza Burgos, R., Johnson, J.P. and Loughry, M.L.L. (2022), "Does organizational learning differ in manufacturing and service firms? Evidence from Mexico", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 26 No. 7, pp. 1649-1675. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-04-2021-0301

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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