Accelerated Learning by Experimentation

35 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2010

See all articles by Roger Bohn

Roger Bohn


Michael A. Lapre

Vanderbilt University - Operations Management

Date Written: July 12, 2010


In most technologies and most industries, experiments play a central role in organizational learning as a source of knowledge and as a check before changes are implemented. There are four primary types of experiments: controlled, natural, ad-hoc, and evolutionary operation. This paper discusses factors that affect learning by experimentation and how they influence learning rates. In some cases, new ways of experimenting can create an order of magnitude improvement in the rate of learning. On the other hand, some situations are inherently hard to run experiments on, and therefore learning remains slow until basic obstacles are solved. Examples of experimentation are discussed in four domains: product development, manufacturing, consumer marketing, and medical trials.

Keywords: Learning, Experimentation

JEL Classification: M10, O30

Suggested Citation

Bohn, Roger E. and Lapre, Michael A., Accelerated Learning by Experimentation (July 12, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Roger E. Bohn (Contact Author)

UCSD-IRPS ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

Michael A. Lapre

Vanderbilt University - Operations Management ( email )

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States
615-322-2389 (Phone)
615-343-7177 (Fax)


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