Social Networks and the Organizational Knowledge Transfer Process
The capability to effectively transfer and leverage knowledge from all kinds of resources has become one of the important sources of competitive advantage, innovativeness, and sustained firm performance. Prior research has shown that the internal social networks of a firm contribute to the transfer of knowledge. The knowledge transfer process, however, has not been consistently defined, but is strongly related to both the organizational learning processes and the processes underlying the concept of absorptive capacity theory.
The present dissertation combines the literature of social capital, social networks, and knowledge transfer with absorptive capacity theory and organizational learning and focuses on the process underpinning knowledge transfer by declining the general framework of absorptive capacity theory. Based on these insights, the author develops an integrated knowledge transfer process. This integrated process considers how the social network of a firm affects the various phases of the transfer of knowledge. In addition, this integrated process provides a promising way to the study of the micro-antecedents and micro-processes underlying the concept of absorptive capacity. The author reveals considerable research gaps in terms of the upstream phase of knowledge acquisition for which the established network features of tie strength, network cohesion, and network range have not been examined. Based on a field study, the author develops the concept of knowledge loss and empirically investigates it at the level of the recipient.