Learning innovation from haute cuisine chefs

How do we learn to innovate and become successful entrepreneurs?

In the August 2016 edition of the Journal of Business Research there is an interesting article (Abecassis-Moedas, et al., 2016) that shows how top haute cuisine chefs innovate and are successful.

Top haute cuisine chefs learn to innovate by vicarious learning. This is a type of social learning in which the individual learns through observation without directly
performing the behavior or experiencing the consequences. Vicarious learning can be described as a process where “by observing a model of the desired behavior, an individual forms an idea of how response components must be combined and sequenced to produce the new behavior”. There are three types of vicarious learning, these are:

  • Vicarious learning from parental models
    Parents can be viewed as a central model for the development of the entrepreneur identity for nascent entrepreneurs, whereby role modeling, imitation, basic values or utilities passed from parents to child;
  • Vicarious learning from academic models
    In schools and universities, individuals can learn vicariously through discussions,
    conflicts, challenges, story-telling and observing not only lecturers and professors but also more experienced students and peers;
  • Vicarious learning from mentor models
    Mentors can be important for learning as they facilitate opportunity recognition by providing valuable information based on their extensive experience. Besides the information transfer mentors are also important by the model they represent.

Top haute cuisine chefs learn to innovate especially from parental models and mentor models. Learning form academic models seems to be less important as these models probably do not capture the complexity and heuristic behaviors needed for innovation, although they are useful for learning in general.

For top haute cuisine chefs it shows that innovation is beneficial to the performance. Chefs who incorporate novel approaches to food preparation, ingredients, menu, service, and the configuration of restaurants are more likely to perform better.

If we want to be successful in our working career in probably other businesses than the restaurant sector, what can we learn from these top haute cuisine chefs? At least we can start by looking for role models, find a mentor and at the same time start using novel approaches to our preparation, find new ingredients, make changes to the menu, improve the service and start making changes to the configuration of our workplace.

To improve my Strategy Blogs I’ll start by learning next week more about blogging during the Blogging Challange of the Blog Universiteit (Blog University).

Norbert Bol


Abecassis-Moedas, C., Sguera, F., & Ettlie, J. E. (2016). Observe, innovate, succeed: A learning perspective on innovation and the performance of entrepreneurial chefs. Journal of Business Research.

Photo credit: Les Roches via Foter.com / CC BY

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s