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Journal cover: Competitiveness Review

Competitiveness Review

ISSN: 1059-5422

Online from: 1991

Subject Area: International Business

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Engaging embedded information: Toward a holistic theory of knowledge transfer in organizations

Document Information:
Title:Engaging embedded information: Toward a holistic theory of knowledge transfer in organizations
Author(s):Michael P. Thompson, (Marriott School, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA), Robert J. Jensen, (Marriott School, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA), Kristen DeTienne, (Marriott School, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA)
Citation:Michael P. Thompson, Robert J. Jensen, Kristen DeTienne, (2009) "Engaging embedded information: Toward a holistic theory of knowledge transfer in organizations", Competitiveness Review, Vol. 19 Iss: 4, pp.323 - 341
Keywords:Knowledge management, Knowledge organizations, Knowledge transfer
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/10595420910977434 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to propose a model of knowledge transfer that takes into account both the perspective of the sender and the perspective of the receiver, with an emphasis on the latter. The contention is that, although externalizing knowledge residing in an individual or group and making it accessible to others either through direct communication or embedding information in the organizational system is a necessary component of knowledge transfer, it is not the only component. An equal, but understudied, share of the knowledge transfer effort takes place when the receiver of the knowledge engages with it, internalizing it and making it usable for the receiver as well.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper first defines knowledge from a pragmatic, organizational perspective. Second, it presents the model. Finally, it evaluates the current direction of knowledge transfer studies in light of the main tenets of the model.

Findings – Engagement of information is a necessary step before knowledge can be effectively transferred to a receiver. Engagement is defined as an act whereby the receiver of the information actively uses the information by applying it to specific tasks.

Practical implications – Companies should be aware that there is a tendency to under-invest in engagement and over-invest in embedding information.

Originality/value – The model differs from current models in that it proposes that in virtually no case is the interplay a zero sum game. In most cases, investing more in embedding information requires investing more in engaging the information.

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