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Submission Paper

4920 words - 20 pages


Abstract Organizational learning is increasingly being considered as one of the fundamental sources of competitive advantage within the context of strategic management. However, most literature has not clearly linked organizational learning with sustainable competitive advantage. This paper, therefore, explores and discusses the role of organizational learning in helping business firms to achieve sustainable competitive advantage. Specifically, it ...view middle of the document...

This increase in importance is as a result of the belief that fundamental basis of above-average performance in the long run is sustainable competitive advantage (Porter, 1985). Practitioners and academicians have centered their studies on firm specific characteristics that are unique, add value to the ultimate consumer and are transferable to many different industrial settings (Coplin, 2002). Thus, it is understood that across sectors most firms should recognize that attaining competitive advantages is the most challenging issue facing firms in the 21st century. This concern has lead to the development of resource-based and knowledge-based theories that examine the relationship between core resources and capabilities; sustainable competitive advantage and above normal performance. According to Barney (1991) a firm is said to have a sustainable competitive advantage when it is implementing a value creating strategy not simultaneously being implemented by any current or potential competitors and when these other firms are unable to duplicate the benefits of this strategy. Thus sustained

Dr. John Njuguna sadly passed on in a grisly road accident before this paper was published. He was a lecturer in the School of Entrepreneurship, Procurement and Development at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi, Kenya. Our condolences to the wife Mrs. Alice Irungu and the children Wambui, Kelvin and little Claire.




competitive advantage exists only after efforts to replicate that advantage have failed. It is for this reason that organizations are focusing on methods and strategies that are difficult to imitate. One of such methods and strategies is organizational learning through which an organization is capable of developing intellectual capital (human capital, social capital and organizational capabilities) that is rare and difficult to imitate. Ollila (c.f. Harung & Gustavsson, 1994) underscored the role of organizational learning in achieving sustainable competitive advantage by stating that the rate at which an organization learns may become the only sustainable source of competitive advantage. This was also emphasized by Goh (2003) who noted that to remain competitive; many organizations are adopting a strategy of continuous learning. They encourage employees to learn new skills continually to be innovative and to try new processes and work methods in order to achieve the strategic business objectives of the organization. While there is little opposition to the premise that organizational learning is a competence that all organizations should develop in fast-changing and competitive environments (Prahald and Hamel, 1994; Senge, 1990; Nonaka, 1991; Garvin, 1993), most literary works have not clearly linked organizational learning with sustainable competitive advantage, as is the case with intellectual capital (knowledge-based resources) using...

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