Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How Initial Representations Shape Coupled Learning Processes

PURANAM Phanish, SWAMY Murali
Access the publisher's website
Organization Science 27, 2 (2016) 323-335

Coupled learning processes, in which specialists from different domains learn how to make interdependent choices among alternatives, are common in organizations.
The authors explore the role played by initial representations held by the learners in coupled learning processes using a formal agent-based model. They find that initial representations have important consequences for the success of the coupled learning process, particularly when communication is constrained and individual rates of learning are high. 
Under these conditions, initial representations that generate incorrect beliefs can outperform one that does not discriminate among alternatives, or even a mix of correct and incorrect representations among the learners. The authors draw implications for the design of coupled learning processes in organizations.