Experiencing the Improbable: Rare Events and Organizational Learning

Organization Science, Vol. 20, No. 5, pp. 835-845, 2009

Posted: 11 Jun 2011

See all articles by Joseph Lampel

Joseph Lampel

Alliance Manchester Business School

Jamal Shamsie

Michigan State University - The Eli Broad College of Business and The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management

Zur Shapira

Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics; New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

Date Written: June 10, 2009

Abstract

Organizations that go through rare and unusual events, whether they are costly or beneficial, face the challenge of interpreting and learning from these experiences. Although research suggests that organizations respond to this challenge in a variety of ways, we lack a framework for comparing and analyzing how organizational learning is affected by rare events. This paper develops such a framework. We begin by first outlining two views of rare events. The first view defines rare events as probability estimates, usually calculated from the frequency of the event. The second view defines rare events as opportunities for unique sensemaking based on the enacted salience of specific features of the rare events. We next use these definitions to explore how rare events trigger learning, and then examine the kind of learning processes that are triggered by rare events. We conclude with a discussion of promising areas of research on learning from rare events.

Keywords: rare events, organizational learning, learning triggers, learning processes

Suggested Citation

Lampel, Joseph and Shamsie, Jamal and Shapira, Zur, Experiencing the Improbable: Rare Events and Organizational Learning (June 10, 2009). Organization Science, Vol. 20, No. 5, pp. 835-845, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1862348

Joseph Lampel (Contact Author)

Alliance Manchester Business School ( email )

Harold Hankins Building
room 9.21
London, Choose a State M15 6PB
United Kingdom
0161-820-8344 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/joseph.lampel/furtherinformation

Jamal Shamsie

Michigan State University - The Eli Broad College of Business and The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824-1121
United States
517-432-3518 (Phone)

Zur Shapira

Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

40 West Fourth Street, 7-06
New York, NY 10012
United States

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
483
PlumX Metrics