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Learning from Failure

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Learning from errors; Organizational learning from error; Organizational learning from failure


Failure is defined as an outcome that deviates from expected and desired results. Learning from failure describes processes and behaviors through which individuals, groups and organizations gain accurate and useful insights from failures and modify future behaviors, processes, or systems accordingly.

Theoretical Background

The ability to learn from experience is crucial to the performance and well-being of individuals, groups, and organizations. However, research has shown that organizational learning from failure is thwarted by defensive interpersonal cognitions and routines (Argyris 1982), as well as by organizational systems and processes that favor continuity and routine over learning (March and Simon 1958). In short, learning from failure is widely acknowledged as a good idea but is not consistently practiced in most organizations (Baumard and Starbuck 2005).


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Correspondence to Mark D. Cannon .

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© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

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Cannon, M.D., Edmondson, A.C. (2012). Learning from Failure. In: Seel, N.M. (eds) Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning. Springer, Boston, MA.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Boston, MA

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4419-1427-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4419-1428-6

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