Jay Anand, Louis Mulotte and Charlotte R. Ren
Strategic management research traditionally uses experiential learning arguments to explain the existence of a positive relationship between repetition of an activity and superior performance. We propose an alternative interpretation of this relationship in the context of discrete corporate development activities, which are generally self-selected on the basis of superior performance expectations. We argue that firms are likely to choose to repeat successful activities, thereby accumulating high experience with them. To demonstrate this ‘self-selection’ effect, we examine the performance of 437 aircraft projects launched through three introduction modes. We show that the positive performance effect of the firm’s experience with the focal mode vanishes after accounting for experience endogeneity. We suggest that in a general case, experience with corporate development activities may be tinged with both learning as well as selection effects. Therefore, omitting experience endogeneity may lead researchers to draw incorrect conclusions from an “empirically observed” positive experience-performance relationship.