A talk of interest to COR community…
“Learning from Senior Colleagues’ Failures but not from Junior
Colleagues’ Failures? Evidence from Microdata on Heart Surgeons”
Professor Sunkee Lee
Carnegie Mellon Tepper Business School
Day: Friday, November 22
Location: Merage SB1, Room 5100
Organizational learning research has shown that individuals learn from other individuals’ failures. However, do individuals learn from all others’ failures in organizations? We propose that in organizations with seniority hierarchies created based on organizational members’ professional tenure, individuals will learn more from their senior colleagues’ failures than from their junior colleagues’ failures. We test this main hypothesis using data on 288 cardiothoracic surgeons who performed coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgeries in 127 Californian hospitals from 2003 to 2016. We find evidence that, in fact, individuals learn from their senior colleagues’ failures but do not learn from their junior colleagues’ failures. We examine three plausible mechanisms for this finding which we offer evidence of through statistical analyses and semi-structured interviews with currently practicing cardiothoracic surgeons. Our paper contributes to the literature on learning from failures, organizational learning, organization design, and microfoundations of organizational performance.