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Research in agriculture and other industries has shown that innovativeness is a key driver of improved performance measures of small and medium-sized enterprises. The willingness to change current practice may be a function of the level of experience of the manager as well as the manager’s commitment to learning. Firms with more experience may suffer from confirmation bias and therefore may not see the performance benefits that stem from innovative activities. Using data from a survey of 285 beef producers in Illinois, this study employs cluster analysis to segment firms along experience and learning variables. Using a non-hierarchical clustering procedure, four clusters emerge. The study employs one-way ANOVA tests to examine differences in market orientation, innovativeness and satisfaction with several performance measures across clusters. Results indicate firms with a commitment to learning have a greater propensity to seek out market information, a greater willingness to accept innovations and are more satisfied with overall performance. The paper concludes with some implications for managers and policy makers.


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