Avoiding missed opportunities in managerial life: Analogical training more powerful than individual case training

Leigh Thompson, Dedre Gentner, Jeffrey Loewenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)60-75
Number of pages16
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Learning; transfer; negotiation; case study; comparison; advice; performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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