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Avoiding missed opportunities in managerial life: Analogical training more powerful than individual case training, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes


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.




Leigh Thompson, Jeffrey Loewenstein, Dedre Gentner

Date Published



Thompson, Leigh, Jeffrey Loewenstein, and Dedre Gentner. 2000. Avoiding missed opportunities in managerial life: Analogical training more powerful than individual case training. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.(1): 60-75.


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