Strategizing Knowledge Coordination Capabilities: Stickiness And The Sequencing Of Investments In Knowledge Transfer



In this paper we answer the call for a deeper understanding of the process of knowledge transfer and extend the knowledge-based view of the firm by examining the effect of specific investments in knowledge transfer capabilities on the difficulty, or cost, of knowledge coordination. In particular, we test the effect on transfer stickiness of the timing, or sequence, of deploying specific transfer methods across four stages of transfer, employing unique survey data involving 38 different knowledge transfer methods and 142 transfers of organizational practices in eight companies. We develop seven hypotheses and find that not only do transfer methods differ in their impact on the cost of transfer difficulty, with positive effects being primarily stage specific, but that deploying methods during the wrong stage may increase the cost of knowledge transfer rather than decreasing it. We conclude that investments in knowledge transfer capabilities rather than always increasing firm value may be a cause of performance heterogeneity in firms that rely on complex, causally ambiguous knowledge for competitive advantage.
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Patricia de Wilde-Mes