Thursday, April 12, 2012

Changing Routines: A Process Model of Vicarious Group Learning in Pharmaceutical R&D Academy of Management Journal 56, 1 (2013) 35-61

Prior research has indicated that groups frequently change their routines based on the experience of others and that this has significant performance effects. But how group routine change occurs through this process of vicarious learning is not clear. Using a qualitative field study of drug development teams in one pharmaceutical firm, I examine how groups change routines based on the prior related experience of other groups. An inductive analysis suggests that this process is not the simple find-and-copy model often assumed in the literature, and identifies four distinct sub-processes involved – identification, translation, adoption, and continuation. This process model adds to our understanding of vicarious learning by showing that it is a more varied process than commonly construed and that not only the experience-seeking group but also the group that is the source of the experience play important and shifting roles throughout. Thus, this study contributes to theories about how groups change their routines by elucidating how they alter their routines through vicarious learning.