The paper explores the specificity of volume-based learning in an outsourced setting. When producing a unit of output, the content of the knowledge gained can vary dramatically from one unit to the next. This suggests that while aggregate experience in learning-by-doing is generally valuable, not all prior experience has an equal impact on performance. To examine these differences we introduce a framework
to unpack the multiple dimensions of experience that exist within one unit of work.
The paper then empirically examines the customer-, domain-, and technology-specificity of learning. The empirical setting is the context of outsourced radiological services where individual doctors at an outsourcing firm complete radiological reads for hospital customers. We find that customer-, domain-, and technology-specific experience—as compared to other experience—leads to improved productivity. We discuss the implications of our results for the study of learning and experience, as well as for outsourcers and the firms that use their services.
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