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A Multi‐Theoretical Model of Knowledge Transfer in Organizations: Determinants of Knowledge Contribution and Knowledge Reuse*

Sharon Watson and Kelly Hewett

Journal of Management Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 2, 141-173

Abstract: abstract Knowledge has become one of the most important sources of competitive advantage for firms in many industries, particularly those in which firms provide knowledge services to their clients. Many knowledge intensive firms have spent enormous amounts of time and money trying to find ways to better manage their knowledge resources. Effective leveraging of knowledge resources through the transfer and reuse of existing knowledge is an important aspect of most knowledge management systems. In this study we argue that the effectiveness of intrafirm knowledge transfer based on the reuse of existing knowledge depends on two key factors: (1) the willingness of individuals to contribute their knowledge to the system; and (2) the rate at which individuals access and reuse knowledge within the system. Here we use social exchange theory to develop a model of the factors that will impact the frequency with which individuals contribute their knowledge to the system. Additionally, we use expectancy theory to develop a model of the factors that lead to knowledge reuse. Results of hypothesis tests using data collected from a multinational services firm support our multi‐theoretical model, and suggest ways in which the model might be refined. We discuss the implications of these findings for further theory building and for managers engaged in the development and improvement of knowledge management systems.

Date: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:43:y:2006:i:2:p:141-173