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N-loop learning: part II – an empirical investigation

Bernard L. Simonin (Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




Through a survey of firm’s experiences with strategic alliances and a structural equation modeling approach, the aim of this study is to stimulate further interest in modeling and empirical research in the area of N-loop learning. Although the concepts of single-loop and double-loop learning, in particular, are well established in the literature, limited research has been directed toward their empirical validation and finer understanding.


Based on a large sample of technology firms, a MIMIC model is proposed and tested with respect to the development of collaborative know-how via the adoption and conduct of different structural choices on how to deploy strategic alliances (single-loop vs double-loop approach). Results are cross-validated.


Based on the results of two structural equation models, the findings support the fit of the proposed conceptual model and the notion that, overall, the greater the extent of double-loop over single-loop learning, the higher the level of collaborative know-how derived.


The call for the empirical investigation of N-loop learning is met by providing an example of survey-based research. The possible benefits of “double-loop” over “single-loop” learning are modeled and tested empirically.



Simonin, B.L. (2017), "N-loop learning: part II – an empirical investigation", The Learning Organization, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 202-214.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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