Research seminar by VK Narayanan

IIM K hosted its Thirteenth research seminar on January 25, 2024, for the year 2023-24. It was conducted by PROF. V.K. NARAYANAN Deloitte & Touché Jones Stubbs Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship in Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

The topic was Transfer of Learning Across Projects


Abstract of the talk given below

The objective of this paper is to examine empirically the differences in learning achieved by individuals and their impact on individuals’ status and job responsibilities upon return to their functional departments. Weaving the literature on types of project teams (e.g., Meyer, 2010). learning in projects (Edmondson and Harvey, 2018; Edmondson and Nembhard, 2009), and the ‘knowledge perspective’ (Frank et al., 2015; Hartmann and Dorée, 2015) together, we argue that the type of project and the extent of learning are related to the enhancement of status and job responsibilities of individuals upon their return to their functional departments. We test these arguments in the context of a field study conducted in a major pharmaceutical firm. A pharmaceutical company has a mix of projects, some on the fast track and others on regular track. Because in big pharma, speed to market is a crucial competitive issue, high priority drug commercialization projects are usually put on the fast track at any point in time. Taking advantage of this feature, we utilize a research design to compare fast and regular cycle teams, eliciting survey responses from individuals working in six drug development projects, four of which were fast cycle teams and the other two regular teams. Our analysis suggests that in fast completed cycle projects, the team members experienced significantly higher learning, and enhanced status and job responsibilities accorded to them upon their return to their functional group, than in the case of their counterparts in regular teams or fast cycle teams that Were discontinued when scientific data revealed the lack of their commercial viability. Thus, learning in the projects fully mediated the transition benefits including enhanced status and job responsibilities.


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