Tacit knowledge transfer and the knowledge disconnect
Journal of Knowledge Management
Purpose -The purpose of this paper is to look at some of the factors that influence the transfer of tacit knowledge between two product development partners. Design/methodology/approach -Research involved the collection of both qualitative and quantitative data. The qualitative data was based on 13 interviews with various individuals, representing three companies, charged with integrating external technology. The quantitative portion of the data was collected through an online survey. The
... was executed by soliciting responses from managers of 39 discreet projects involving various types of external technology integration, representing five different companies. Findings -The paper provides evidence that trust, early involvement, and due diligence influence the extent of meeting technology transfer expectations and tacit knowledge transfer expectations. It also finds that the subject of tacit knowledge transfer, content and process, is poorly understood. While managers and project leaders saw the value of tacit knowledge, there were different perceptions of the goals successful knowledge transfer and a lack of processes to manage its process. While project managers may feel that they have tacit knowledge transfer in hand, they have not managed to transfer the knowledge needed for long-term product management. Research limitations/implications -There are a number of limitations affecting the scope of these findings. For one, our survey respondents were all project or product managers. Future research should include a broader base of participants, both horizontally and vertically. Second, interviews and surveys were confined to a total of five US companies in three industries. Future research would benefit from a larger sample size, as well as greater sample diversity in terms of firm size, industry, and cultural context. Lastly, the measure of tacit knowledge transfer needs additional validation. Practical implications -The paper offers several recommendations to help managers begin to think of tacit knowledge as an independent entity and manage it accordingly. Originality/value -This paper offers empirical support for some of the factors that influence the extent of meeting technology and tacit knowledge transfer expectations. Moreover, it offers a unique model that highlights how different levels of an organizational hierarchy are governed by significantly different goals and expectations with regard to tacit knowledge transfer.