Master Thesis "Reverse knowledge transfer. Actors approach"

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Aalborg University


Master Thesis

“Reverse knowledge transfer. Actors approach”

Supervisor of the Project – Max Rolfstam

Number of pages: 79

Number of words: 27 185

Number of symbols: 173 950

Number of symbols without spacing: 147 186




Motivation for writing this project originated two years ago when author of this project in collaboration with other two students wrote project about knowledge management. The basic knowledge and understanding of knowledge management field were obtained. Since then author of this project wrote several projects in fields directly or indirectly connected to knowledge management. This project is an attempt to explore this field in new way –through actors view – and thus gain new knowledge and understanding of the field.

Initial expectations were to create better understanding of reverse knowledge transfer and knowledge transfer as such for both, the author and a reader. As knowledge management is considerably new discipline it has still a lot of unexplored aspects and this thesis tries to explore some of them and thus make knowledge management discipline more understandable for academics as well as general public. As in MIKE program at Aalborg University “K” stands for knowledge this thesis is considered also valuable contribution to future students of this study program.

As in MIKE program “I” stands for innovation in this project author chose to use non conventional approach for project – Actors view. It is absolutely new type of approach for author. Project is theoretical with no practical problem investigation, and following actors view certain results from previous authors projects were used as well as knowledge from previous projects were big foundation for this thesis. Further lot of academic research papers were reviewed and literature analysed in order to get enough valid information to build understanding of reverse knowledge management.

Project has three main parts followed by final conclusion. First part explains motivation and purpose of this thesis as well as connection with previous authors work and interest in knowledge management field. Second part explains in details terms “knowledge”, “knowledge management”, “knowledge transfer” and various important aspects of them. Third part analyses literature and models of knowledge transfer created by various academics and experts in field in order to gain better understanding of knowledge transfer and more specifically reverse knowledge transfer processes.

It was found that reverse knowledge transfer is natural process which to some extent happens at every organization. Various important influencers of reverse knowledge transfer were found as well as proof of benefits which successful reverse knowledge transfer can bring to an organization. However most importantly specific aspects of main three reverse knowledge transfer enablers – tools, conditions, information - were found and suggestions for their development were created. All in all general understanding of reverse knowledge transfer were created and lot of knowledge were placed as well as gained from this project.

The biggest ambition of this thesis has been choice of actors view. Actors view approach has been introduced in MIKE-B methodology course at first semester and it is focusing on knowledge creating. Ambition to create knowledge for self and the reader as well as ambition to innovate led to choice of this approach and results achieved through it is more than initially expected. Thus it can be said that this project not only created better understanding of reverse knowledge transfer but also is successful attempt to use actors view in research.


1. Introduction 8

1.1. The origins of subject choice 8

1.2. Next step (Introduction) 10

1.3. Problem Formulation 11

2.0. Methodology 13

2.1. Three views 14

2.1.1. Analytical view 16

2.1.2. Systems view 17

2.1.3. Actors view 19

2.4. Other approaches 20

2.5. Methodology in this thesis 23

2.6. Other methodological considerations 27

2.7.1. Data gathering 30

2.7.2. Validity 31

2.7.3. Analysing the data 32

2.8. Delimitation 34

2.9. Outline of thesis 35

3.0. Background 37

3.1. Term of knowledge 38

3.1.1. Knowledge 38

3.1.2. Classifications of Knowledge 39

3.1.3. History of knowledge 40

3.2. Managing the knowledge 42

3.2.1. Knowledge Management 42

3.2.2. Information Technology role 45

3.3. Knowledge transfer (KT) 48

3.3.1. Knowledge creation 48

3.3.2. Knowledge transfer 50

3.3.3. HR role 52

3.4. Knowledge transfer models 53

3.4.1. Wang et al (2004) model 54

3.4.2. Ilovici & Han (2003) model 57

3.4.3. Learn-Forget model 59

3.4.4. Liyanage et al (2009) model 62

3.4.5. Frank & Ribeiro (2012) model 64

3.4.6. Guru-Shishya model 67

3.5. Reverse knowledge transfer 69

4.0. Analysis 73

4.1. Finding channels 74

4.2. Reversing channels 78

4.3. Result 81

5.0. Conclusion 85

References 87

Appendices 92

Figure 1 “KT types” (Source: Nonaka, 1994) 46

Figure 2 “Member-task-tool network” (Source: Argote, 2012) 47

Figure 3 “KT cycle” (Source: Nonaka, 1994) 48

Figure 4 “KT conceptual model” (Source: Minbaeva et al, 2003) 50

Figure 5 “MNC parent contributes knowledge” (Source: Wang et al, 2004) 52

Figure 6 “Organization KT model” (Source: Ilovici & Han, 2003) 55

Figure 7 “Learning rate effect on execution time” (Source: Tukel et al, 2008) 57

Figure 8 “Impact of forgetting” (Source: Tukel et al, 2008) 57

Figure 9 “Knowledge hierarchy” (Source: Liyanage et al, 2009) 59

Figure 10 “KT – a process model” (Source: Liyanage et al, 2009) 60

Figure 11 “KT between NPD projects” (Source: Frank & Ribeiro, 2012) 62

Figure 12 “The Guru-Shishya model” (Source: Shrowty, 1996) 65

Figure 13 “Subsidiary strategic mandates” (Source: McGuiness et al, 2013) 67

Figure 14 “Paths of information transfer in organization” (Source: Sun & Scott, 2005) 72

Figure 15 “Information structures in KT” (Source: Lin et al, 2005) 78

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