Carnegie Mellon University


The following are examples of the center's current research projects.

  • “Is Failure Always the Mother of Success? Examination of Learning from Failure in the Context of Heart Surgeons,” coauthored by Sunkee Lee (Carnegie Mellon University) and Jisoo Park (Carnegie Mellon University). This research aims to better understand the processes and outcomes associated with learning from failure experiences. On the one hand, failure experiences provide opportunities for individuals to learn and improve their performance. However, on the other hand, the accumulation of failures could impair individuals’ motivation to learn by inducing negative emotions such as the sense of helplessness. This research uses data on cardiothoracic surgeons to examine this tension in learning from failures.

  • “Organizational Routines and Adaptability: The Effects of Routines in Buildings TMS and Enabling Team Performance,” a dissertation by Jerry Guo, now at Aarhus University. This dissertation investigates how organizational routines, analogous to standard operating procedures or processes, facilitate the emergence of transactive memory systems and thereby enable performance on new tasks. Results from the study suggest that organizations can remain adaptive to changing tasks if they store knowledge in routines and procedures, if those routines enable members of teams to learn about one another’s skills.
  • “Personnel Mobility and Organizational Performance: The Effects of Specialist vs. Generalist Experience and Organization Work Structure,” coauthored by Erin Fahrenkopf (Stanford), Jerry Guo (Aarhus University), and Linda Argote (Carnegie Mellon University), examines the factors predicting whether a new organization member can transfer their knowledge to the organization. The project focuses on the division of work in organizations, arguing that experience working as a specialist endows new members with different knowledge than experience working as a generalist. Specialist movers are less likely to transfer knowledge to their new organizations, and experience a particular disadvantage when they join generalist organizations, leading to worse performance when compared to generalist movers. These results suggest that new employees with broad experience may be better contributors to their new organizations.
  • “Transactive Memory Systems and Trauma Resuscitation Team Performance,” coauthored by Linda Argote (CMU), Jerry Guo (Aarhus University), Ki-Won Haan (CMU) and Matthew Rosengart, Cindy Teng and Jeremy Kahn (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), investigates the effect of transactive memory systems on the performance of hospital trauma resuscitation teams. Known colloquially as knowledge of who knows what, a transactive memory system (TMS) enables teams to assign tasks to the most qualified members and to rely on those members to perform and coordinate their tasks effectively. Behavioral indicators of transactive memory are coded from video recordings of trauma resuscitations in a hospital emergency department. Objective measures of team performance, patient lengths of stay in the intensive care unit and in the hospital, are obtained from hospital records. Results of analyzing data from 121 patients reveal that patients treated by trauma teams with strong TMS experience significantly shorter lengths of stay in the ICU and in the hospital than patients treated by trauma teams with weaker TMS. Reductions in length of stay benefit patients, reduce health care costs, and free up hospital resources to care for other patients, an outcome that is especially valuable in times such as the current pandemic.