The Process of Knowledge Transfer: A Diachronic Analysis of Stickiness

Published on May 1, 2000in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes2.908
· DOI :10.1006/obhd.2000.2884
Gabriel Szulanski21
Estimated H-index: 21
(UPenn: University of Pennsylvania)
Abstract Even though intrafirm transfers of knowledge are often laborious, time consuming, and difficult, current conceptions treat them as essentially costless and instantaneous. When acknowledged, difficulty is an anomaly in the way transfers are modeled rather than a characteristic feature of the transfer itself. One first step toward incorporating difficulty in the analysis of knowledge transfer is to recognize that a transfer is not an act, as typically modeled, but a process. This article offers a process model of knowledge transfer. The model identifies stages of transfer and factors that are expected to correlate with difficulty at different stages of the transfer. The general expectation is that factors that affect the opportunity to transfer are more likely to predict difficulty during the initiation phase, whereas factors that affect the execution of the transfer are more likely to predict difficulty during subsequent implementation phases. Measures of stickiness are developed for each stage of the transfer to explore the predictive power of different factors at different stages of the process. A cross-sectional analysis of primary data collected through a two-step survey of 122 transfers of organizational practices within eight firms illustrates the applicability of the model and suggests several issues for further research.
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