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LOGISTICS MANAGERS' LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS AND FIRM PERFORMANCE

Alexander E. Ellinger, A. Ellinger, S. Keller
Published 2002 · Business

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Previous research has suggested that a firm can improve its performance by developing the learning skills and harnessing the knowledge of its employees. This learning organization concept offers a theoretical rationale for promoting learning environments to better leverage employees' knowledge, skills and abilities. However, relatively little is known about firms' learning and development strategies for logistics managers. This paper reports on a study to assess firms' learning environments from the perspective of the logistics managers and to gauge the impact of learning behavior on business operations. Logistics managers from U.S.-based manufacturers were surveyed on the extent to which their firms practice behaviors characteristic of a learning organization, the extent to which logistics managers encounter environments that are conductive to work-related learning and their perceptions of firm performance. Findings suggest that the firms in the sample are only moderately successful at providing work environments that facilitate logistic managers' work-related learning. Results also find that individual level learning behavior was most strongly associated with customer service-related performance indicators. Promoting behavioral characteristics of the learning organization in conjunction with traditional operations planning may prove to be a balanced and effective approach to strategic logistics management. However, this may require a fundamental shift in the way logistics organizations are managed with respect to the education, training and development of personnel.
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