Learning, knowledge and skills: implications for firm-level performance in African industry | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1474-2748
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0551


Drawing insights from firm-level surveys, this paper addresses three broad issues relating to the role of learning and knowledge in African industry. First, we examine modes of learning using training in small and medium firms as a proxy. We found that elementary learning mechanisms such as apprenticeship, which result in the creation of tacit knowledge, are the dominant forms of learning. While knowledge externalities tend to benefit larger firms, small enterprises with little absorptive capacity are locked into repetitive routines of learning-by-doing and disconnected from both local and global knowledge pools. Second, we analysed the types and nature of the mix of formal knowledge and human skills possessed by firms and how this impacts on the learning process. Management and technical training are mostly conducted in-house and correlate with firm output and export performance. Third, the level of resources devoted to training correlates with firm performance and export capabilities. The study suggests that policy has an important role to play in stimulating dynamic learning in firms.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Africa; codified; institutions; knowledge; small firms; tacit
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