We argue that other peoples' failures provide a neglected source of managerial learning that is associated with enhanced learning transfer. Due to their negative valence, stories about other peoples' failures as compared to stories about other peoples' successes should elicit a more pronounced motivational response, such that people elaborate the content of failure stories more actively. As a consequence, the knowledge gained from failure stories will more likely be applied on a transfer task. We expect this motivational response to failure stories and its benefits for learning to be most pronounced for people who view failures as valuable learning opportunities. We report an experimental study, in which participants were exposed to a managerial training with stories about either managerial successes or managerial failures that delivered the same learning content. Results showed that stories about managerial failures led to more elaboration and learning transfer, in particular for participants who see the learning potential of failures. We discuss how failure stories can be used to stimulate managerial learning in educational and organizational settings.
Failure, success, storytelling, motivation, managerial learning
Human Resources Management | Organizational Behavior and Theory
Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources
Academy of Management Learning and Education
Academy of Management
BLEDOW, Ronald; CARETTE, Bernd; KUEHNEL, Jana; and PITTIG, Daniela.
Learning from others' failures: The effectiveness of failure stories for managerial learning. (2017). Academy of Management Learning and Education. 16, (1), 39-53. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School of Business.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research_all/16
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