Knowledge acquisition throughout the lifecycle: product and industry learning frameworks

Ferran Vendrell-Herrero, Emanuel Gomes, Marco Opazo, Oscar Bustinza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to distinguish clearly between industry (ILC) and product lifecycle (PLC) models and to elucidate their different ramifications for organizational learning and knowledge.

Design/methodology/approach: The authors examine existing knowledge on ILCs and PLCs to highlight the differences and similarities and develop a framework with implications for learning and innovation in digital manufacturing industries.

Findings: The authors identify and associate one dominant type of learning with each phase of the ILC: learning-by-participating in the introduction phase, learning-by-feedback in the growth phase, vicarious learning in the maturity phase and learning-by-memory in the decline phase. The study also provides insight into how different types of learning influence PLC in digital innovation. From this perspective, learning-by-feedback is crucial to co-creation, co-production and open innovation. Similarly, learning-by-doing and learning-by-memory are essential to production and usage stages, respectively.

Research limitations/implications: The conceptual development in this paper follows a somewhat critical but ultimately elucidative analysis that highlights important research avenues in the interplay of PLC/ILC, organizational learning and digital innovation.

Originality/value: This paper clarifies a perennial theoretical problem by differentiating two concepts often conflated in the literature. More importantly, it contributes to the knowledge management literature by shedding light on the connection of ILC and PLC theories to different types of organizational learning.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
Early online date2 Sept 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Sept 2021


  • Digital
  • Industry lifecycle
  • Organizational learning
  • Product lifecycle


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