Discusses the tactical decisions firms make in the process of establishing management systems in overseas subsidiaries and their strategic effects on the function of the management system as it relates to organizational learning. Introduces a typology of organizational learning models by analyzing 114 Japanese subsidiaries. Uses the typology to discuss the differences across Japanese multinational corporations in terms of how they learn and the levels at which they learn. Argues that what was learned, how much was learned and who learned was determined by the particulars of the learning process itself. Suggests four learning types among the Japanese multinational corporations studied based on analysis of decision patterns. Describes the implications for how Japanese multinational corporations should approach learning in their foreign operations and addresses the import the findings might have for non-Japanese corporations.