Organizational learning and interorganizational relationships: A multiple case study


  • Fabiano Larentis UCS
  • Claudia Simone Antonello UFRGS
  • Gabriel Sperandio Milan UCS
  • Deonir De Toni UCS


aprendizagem interorganizacional, relacionamentos interorganizacionais, marketing de relacionamento, aprendizagem situada


Cooperative interorganizational relationships are fundamentally based on trust, commitment and cooperation of individuals, which learn in this context from their practices. Therefore, this study aims to understand and analyze the learning processes arising from interorganizational relationships, focusing on relationship marketing practices between suppliers and customers. It is assumed that the learning process takes place in an interorganizational level and in a situated manner, especially among certain individuals and groups from different organizations (boundary spanners). We conducted a study of multiple cases involving marketing channels employees and intermediaries of a furniture company and a financial services company, through forty-six in-depth interviews and one direct observation in two collection phases. The technique for data analysis was based on grounded theory. The main results indicate the existence of learning processes and outcomes. Informal learning from experiences, exchanges and results is preponderant, as well as learning to trust. Formal processes of learning, in turn, serve as an opportunity for the occurrence of informal ones. Moreover, there is the staff turnover as a complicator. Regarding learning outcomes, market practices and cultural elements (meanings) predominate, and specifically to intermediaries, concepts and management systems. Therefore, in the case of interorganizational learning, it is clear the importance of the quality of the interactions among the individuals involved, in which specially learning to trust is developed.

Keywords: interorganizational learning, interorganizational relationships, relationship marketing, situated learning.



This paper received financial support from Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Brazil.


Author Biographies

Fabiano Larentis, UCS

PPGA/UCS - Mestrado em Administração

Claudia Simone Antonello, UFRGS

PPGA/UFRGS - Mestrado e Doutorado em Administração

Gabriel Sperandio Milan, UCS

PPGA/UCS - Mestrado em Administração

Doutorado em Administração Convênio PUCRS/UCS

Deonir De Toni, UCS

PPGA/UCS - Mestrado em Administração