The impact of national cultures on structured knowledge transfer

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of national culture on the structured knowledge transfer from a US-based (onshore) technical support center to an offshore support center in China. Design/methodology/approach – The research was conducted as an interpretive case study. Three techniques (i.e. document review, participant observation, and semi-structured interviews) were employed for data collection in the field. Findings – The findings identify that knowledge tacitness, knowledge gaps, cultural and communication difficulties and weak relationships were the critical barriers to successful knowledge transfer in a cross-cultural knowledge transfer context. It was found that, when a provider and a recipient are located in different individualism/collectivism, power distance, and uncertainty avoidance cultural dimensions, there will be a reduced likelihood of successful knowledge transfer in a structured knowledge transfer process. However, peer-to-peer help, close relationships and proactive learning may assist in decreasing the knowledge transfer difficulties. Research limitations/implications – The research was limited to one organization in one industry (the IT support industry) and in one country (China). There could be both industry-specific issues and national cultural issues that may affect the findings and conclusions. However, the paper has important practical implications for organizations that are trying to carry out transfer of organizational knowledge or to acquire organizational knowledge in a cross-cultural business context. Originality/value – The findings provide insight into the cultural issues implicated in the structured knowledge transfer process, when a knowledge provider and a recipient are from different cultural dimensions, as well as offering more general insight into the mechanism of knowledge transfer in the cross-cultural business context.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Chen, J., Sun, P.Y.-T. & McQueen, R.J. (2010). The impact of national cultures on structured knowledge transfer. Journal of Knowledge Management, 14(2), 228-242.
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