Do Organizations Have to Change to Learn? Examining the Effects of Technological Change and Learning from Failures in the Natural Gas Distribution Industry

Vinit Desai
Industrial and Corporate Change, Volume 19, Issue 3, Pp. 713-739

Failures contain valuable information. However, organizations vary at learning from them. I ask whether failures prompt organizations to make technological investments, and whether these investments help boost performance beyond improvements gained through direct organizational learning. I test hypotheses on natural gas distributors to determine whether they enhance their performance by learning directly, by recognizing failures as prompts to invest in safer technologies, or through a combination. Results suggest that distributors learn directly, though firms, which also invest in related technologies, are able to gain some additional benefits.