The lost experiment in exploration and exploitation
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This paper focuses on James March’s 1991 article on ‘Exploration and Exploitation in Organizational Learning’, which is now the seventh most highly cited paper in management and organisation studies. March’s paper is based on a computer program that simulates the collective and individual learning of a group of fifty individuals. The largely forgotten story that this paper re-calls is the real-life experiment that March, in large part, designed and conducted when he was the new ‘boy Dean’ of the School of Social Sciences in the University of California at Irvine between 1964 and 1969. Taken together, both stories illuminate important moments in the history of organisation studies. The comparison suggests that March’s model, which was probably the first simulation of an organisation learning, also worked to constitute rather than model the phenomenon.
James March , Organization studies , Management studies , Simulation , Organization learning
Kavanagh, D. (2011) ‘The lost experiment in exploration and exploitation. 27th EGOS Colloquium: Reassembling Organizations, Gothenburg University, Sweden, 6-9 July.
© 2011 the author