Learning Curve vs. Experience Curve
The principle of the learning curve is given in Appendix 1. However, there
is some confusion in the construction industry regarding the use of this term.
Because different construction work typically takes place under unique conditions
at a unique site, it is useful to differentiate between productivity improvement
due to "learning" and that due to "experience".
As craft apprentices learn their trade, productivity increases. However, when
skilled crafts perform a specific task on site and repeat it a number of times,
there is a similar productivity increase. The former increase is due to "learning
the skill", while the latter is due to acquiring "experience of the
particular site conditions" associated with the work activity at the time.
This is an important distinction because it has significant implications if
a site is not well run, or a job is subject to changes
which interrupt the development of the learning pattern.
In construction, unfortunately, "learning curve" is typically used
to refer to the productivity improvement resulting from the site experience,
that is, by crafts who are already skilled at their trade. Consistent with this
practice, this paper uses "learning curve" to imply "experience"
and therefore assumes that all crafts have already acquired the relevant skills
for the work.