Avoiding Missed Opportunities in Managerial Life: Analogical Training More Powerful Than Individual Case Training

Avoiding Missed Opportunities in Managerial
Life: Analogical Training More Powerful Than
Individual Case Training

Leigh Thompson, Dedre Gentner, and Jeffrey Loewenstein

Northwestern University

We examined the ability of Masters of Management students
to transfer knowledge gained from case studies to face-to-face
negotiation tasks. During a study phase, students either read two
cases and gave advice to the protagonist in each case (“Advice”
condition) or derived an overall principle by comparing two cases
(“Comparison” condition). Management students in the Comparison
condition were nearly three times more likely to transfer
the principle in an actual, face-to-face bargaining situation than
those in the Advice condition. Further, content analysis of students’
open-ended responses revealed that the quality of the advice
given in the Advice condition did not predict subsequent
behavior, whereas the quality of the principles given in the Comparison
condition did predict successful transfer to the negotiation
situation. Perhaps most striking is the fact that not a single
person in the Advice condition drew a parallel between the two
cases, even though they were presented on the same page. We
conclude that the value of examples is far greater if analogical
comparisons among examples are encouraged. We propose that
this simple and cost-effective method can substantially improve
the benefits of professional training and education.

Avoiding Missed Opportunities in Managerial

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