Relational Embeddedness and Learning: The Case of Bank Loan Managers and Their Clients
As a complement to the literature on learning in firms, we investigate learning in markets, a nascent area of study that focuses on how learning occurs between, rather than within, firms. The core idea behind our framework is that networks shape knowledge transfer and learning processes by creating channels for knowledge trade and reducing the risk of learning. In developing our framework, we elaborate on the knowledge transfer capabilities of different types of social ties, the informational properties of public and private knowledge, and how types of knowledge transfer and forms of learning follow from the networks within which firms embed their exchanges. We conducted fieldwork at Chicago-area banks to examine our framework's plausibility and application to learning in financial lending markets, a setting relevant to most firms. Findings indicate that learning is located not only in actors' cognitions or past experiences, but also in relations among actors, and that viewing learning as a social process helps solve problems regarding knowledge transfer and learning in markets.