"Organizational Forgetting" and Supply Chains

Phil Ciciora, in a Supply Chain 14/7 post, covers a paper co-authored by Anupam Agrawal (University of Illinois) and Suresh Muthulingam (Penn State University), entitled “Does Organizational Forgetting Affect Vendor Quality Performance? An Empirical Investigation.” The paper focuses on how the depreciation of organization knowledge can negatively effect quality performance initiatives. “The issue is one that we have seen many times, in that firms try to implement improvements with suppliers, and then that initial improvement begins to slowly degrade again,” Agrawal says. “It turns out there is a systematic reason for it, and it’s the depreciation of organizational knowledge.” Analyzing more than 2,700 quality improvement initiatives implemented at 295 car manufacturer vendors, the researchers discovered “that organizational forgetting affected 16 percent of quality gains obtained from ‘autonomous learning’ – that is, learning-by-doing on the job through sheer repetition – and 13 percent of quality gains from targeted quality improvement efforts.” You can access the paper here (registration is free). The paper will also appear in the journal, Manufacturing and Services Operations Management.


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