Knowledge Transfer - Meaning, Barriers and its Characteristics


Organizations indulge nowadays in alliances, collaborations and partnerships. All this require transfer of knowledge, especially, knowledge related to strategies, technologies and best practices to improve the network cooperation. Research studies attempt to obtain inferences from these transfer processes so as to understand more about the characteristics of knowledge transfer.

Barriers to Knowledge Transfer

To understand more about knowledge transfer, it is essential to know about the barriers to transferring best practices in an organization. There is a need to develop a model for the process in which knowledge is transferred, and the obstacles in the different stages of the process can be studied. The critical hurdles to knowledge transfer are as below:

  • Receiver of the knowledge has shortage of absorptive capacity
  • Characteristics of the knowledge being handed over
  • Rapport between informers and receivers

Characteristics of Knowledge Transfer

The speed with which the transfer of knowledge takes place is also important since it has to reach the recipient at the correct time and within acceptable cost. Knowledge received late and at an extra cost will not bring any benefit to the organization. It seems that the speed of the knowledge transfer will depend on the tacit nature of the knowledge. The tacit nature of the knowledge is fundamentally dependant upon two factors:

  • First of all, the knowledge has to be codifiable.
  • Secondly, it should be teachable.

If these are possible, the transfer of knowledge will take place speedily.

It is also seen that the communication and the frequency of discussions between knowledge source and recipient are important factors of knowledge transfer. In addition, the type of knowledge transferred is also significant. The knowledge can be related to business, project or technology. The recipient has to be capable enough in the respective field to have the knowledge successfully imparted.

Knowledge Stickiness

Consider an instance of building a new system. Knowledge transfer can be visualised as consisting of a source which can be a system user and a receiver who is the system builder. The difficulty faced in the process of knowledge transfer is called knowledge stickiness. A methodical and concentrated inspection of the aspects which result in stickiness while systems are built, will be useful to handle the issues that come up as a result of shortage of needed knowledge transfer among the user and the builder. The level of stickiness during the knowledge transfer process depends on the following factors:

  • The character of knowledge
  • The features of sources and receivers
  • The character of the association grown between sources and receivers

While knowledge transfer is taking place, the above three aspects, scheme together for triggering stickiness. It is important to handle stickiness carefully to enhance the process of knowledge transfer.

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