Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2016

Making Experience Count: The Role of Reflection in Individual Learning

by Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary P. Pisano and Bradley Staats


How do organizations learn? In this paper, we build on research on the microfoundations of strategy and learning to study the individual underpinnings of organizational learning. We argue that once an individual has accumulated experience with a task, the benefit of accumulating additional experience is inferior to the benefit of deliberately articulating and codifying the previously accumulated experience. We explain the performance outcomes associated with such deliberate learning efforts using both a cognitive (task understanding) and an emotional (self-efficacy) mechanism. We study the proposed framework by means of a mixed-method approach that combines the reach and relevance of a field experiment with the precision of laboratory experiments. Our results support the proposed theoretical framework and bear important implications from both a theoretical and practical viewpoint.

Keywords: learning by thinking; reflection; knowledge creation; learning; self-efficacy; Perception; Performance; Learning; Knowledge; Cognition and Thinking; India;


Di Stefano, Giada, Francesca Gino, Gary P. Pisano, and Bradley Staats. "Making Experience Count: The Role of Reflection in Individual Learning." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-093, March 2014. (Revised June 2016.)