Capability Building and Learning: An Emergent Behavior Approach
31 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2012
Date Written: June 6, 2012
Economics-based models typically overlook management decisions and firms' capabilities. We develop a model that puts firms at center stage by simulating the aggregate behavior of a population of firms resulting from specific management decisions. The model features a learning process that produces changes in companies' capabilities. Decisions are made under imperfect information and bounded rationality, and managers may sacrifice short-term performance in exchange for qualitative variables that affect their firm's future potential. The model provides a structured setting in which these issues - which are often discussed only in an informal way - can be more rigorously analyzed. The simulations produce a variety of hard-to-anticipate emergent behaviors. Economic performance appears to be quite sensitive to managers' estimates of the true capabilities of their own firms. Also, companies that are willing to accept sacrifices in the short run in order to increase future potential appear to be more stable than the rest.
Keywords: Capability building vs. economic performance, imperfect information, learning, bounded rationality
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