Academic journal article Management : Journal of Contemporary Management Issues

Impact of Key Organizational Factors on Knowledge Transfer Success in Multi-National Enterprises

Academic journal article Management : Journal of Contemporary Management Issues

Impact of Key Organizational Factors on Knowledge Transfer Success in Multi-National Enterprises

Article excerpt


It is commonly said that knowledge is power. In organizations, this expression has become even more relevant than other social settings. Knowledge is a major factor that differentiates successful organizations from the unsuccessful ones (businesses, not-for-profit, and public enterprises). Contemporary knowledge comes in the dimensions of explicit and tacit knowledge (Nonaka, 1994; Polanyi, 1966; and Spender, 1996). Explicit knowledge is the type of knowledge that can be verbally explained, codified or written down in specified documents, while tacit knowledge as an intangible knowledge is intuitive and difficult to express and practice. The latter comes from the individual's mind and is based on life experiences, reading, learning, environment, beliefs, and other background characteristics.

According to Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) and Polanyi (1966), tacit knowledge is knowledge that is non-verbalizable, intuitive and unarticulated. Spender (1996) opined that tacit knowledge could be best explained and understood as knowledge that is yet to be transformed into practice. As an individual variable, tacit knowledge is intimately tied to the knower's experience (Kidd, 1998). Scholars have already noted that knowledge is not always polarized into the explicit-tacit dichotomy but exists along a continuum of tacitness and explicitness (Kogut and Zander, 1993).

When different types of knowledge are understood, it becomes important to examine how knowledge is managed. Knowledge management is defined by Stuhlman (2012) as a conscious, hopefully consistent, strategy implementation to gather, store and retrieve knowledge and then help distribute the information to those who need it in a timely manner. It entails knowledge creation, internalization, use and transfer. It is the activity for obtaining, sustaining and growing intellectual capital in organizations (Marr and Schiuma, 2001). In the 21st century organization, knowledge management is considered essential for growth and productivity. Several studies have considered the transfer of knowledge within and between organizations and their employees but not much research has emphasized the success of such transfers (knowledge) and the possible role of key organizational factors, especially in multinational enterprises in a developing sub-Saharan African country.

In its generic term, knowledge (explicit and tacit) is not an end. It has no utility value for its own sake until deployed for organization's effectiveness. Thus, knowledge acquisition and management become more important than the degree of knowledge polarization. This results in the concern about knowledge internalization and its successful transfer to task performances. As it is with employees' several engagement practices in the workplace, knowledge transfer requires prevailing climate in the organization to thrive. Specifically in the present study, some key organizational factors which have been identified by Choi and Lee (2000) as enablers in the transfer of knowledge within and between organizations and people are considered. These factors include organizational culture, organizational strategy, information technology, training, and organizational performance.

Organizational culture describes the attitude, experiences, beliefs and values as well as specific collection of norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization. However, the culture sets the criteria for human behavior in organizations (both indigenous and multinational enterprises). In addition to culture, organizational strategy is a key factor that is being considered. It concerns various programs that are put in place to enhance the organization's strategic functioning. It represents a significant effort by organizations to improve their outcomes. Another factor under consideration is training. It is about the exposure to new experiences that are aimed at increasing employee competencies. As a component of organization's practice, training is an important variable that deserves attention when aspects of knowledge management are being researched. …

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