Media Selection in Knowledge Transfer: A Decision Model

Media Selection in Knowledge Transfer: A Decision Model

Ruihong Liu (Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China), Xiu-Hao Ding (Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China), Zhi Yang (Huzhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China), Jiang Wu (Wuhan University, Wuhan, China) and Jing Yang (South China Institute of Environmental Sciences, The Ministry of Environment Protection of PRC, Guangdong, China)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/JGIM.2020010105
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Managing knowledge transfer is a complex issue: when firms attempt to accelerate knowledge transfer at a rational cost, there is often a byproduct of knowledge spillover which harms the firms' competitive advantages. As the channel of knowledge transfer, media play a vital role for the success of knowledge transfer. However, the extant literature offers neither comprehensive framework nor a decision method to guide firms' media selection in knowledge transfer. This article develops a framework of media selection from the perspectives of performance, cost, and risk of knowledge spillover, and proposes a decision model of media selection in knowledge transfer based on analytic hierarchy process (AHP). Finally, this article applies the model to a case study to verify its effectiveness in practice. The framework is helpful to guide firms' media selection, and the decision model is valuable to facilitate firms' media selection in big knowledge transfer projects.
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Knowledge is one of the most important resources of firms to gain competitive advantages (Huong, Katsuhiro, & Chi, 2011). Firms transfer knowledge to accomplish the benefits and undertake the costs and potential risks (Argote & Ingram, 2000; Turner & Makhija, 2006). Moreover, globalization brings in more opportunities and challenges for knowledge transfer (Muhammad Wasim & Ali, 2017; Yadav, Adya, Sridhar, & Nath, 2009). Specifically, globalization makes firms can access worldwide knowledge by establishing subsidies or constructing collaborations with external organizations or individuals (Wang, Lu, Lee, & Yeh, 2017). However, separation across time and space brings in more difficulties for knowledge transfer (Aman & Nicholson, 2009). Nowadays, the rapid development of information and communication technologies increases firms’ media options for knowledge transfer, which makes that knowledge transfer is becoming more and more extensive and important for firms (Chow, 2011; Guo & D’Ambra, 2009; Shin-Yuan, Tsan-Ching, David, Albert, & Kuanchin, 2012). Then, an important issue is to select proper media when firms face some specific knowledge transfer projects, including traditional media such as face-to-face, telephone, and document as well as new media such as email, instant message, and teleconference (Oke & Idiagbon-Oke, 2010).

Many theories have been developed to guide media selection in knowledge transfer, including media richness theory, channel expansion theory, and social influence theory (Carlson & Zmud, 1999; Daft & Lengel, 1986; Fulk, Schmitz, & Steinfield, 1990; Venkatesh & Zhang, 2010). However, these theories are not very effective in practice (Carlson & Zmud, 1999). For example, email, with a moderate richness rating, is often chosen by communicators for highly equivocal tasks (Kock & Davison, 2003; Markus, 1994), contradicting the prediction of media richness theory. Facts violating other theories also have been found (Rice, 1993; Rice & Aydin, 1991). Moreover, benefits that firms can obtain from knowledge largely depend on the knowledge’s scarcity (Barney, 2001). It is found that confidentiality depends on media attributes (Sillince, 1997). However, restraint of knowledge spillover, another important aspect in knowledge transfer, is seldom considered in media selection before (Oke & Idiagbon-Oke, 2010; Palvia, Pinjani, Cannoy, & Jacks, 2011).

Through the above analysis, existing studies acknowledge the roles of media in knowledge transfer, but they just focus on one dimension of knowledge transfer objectives separately. The lack of a comprehensive framework produces controversies in theoretical studies and puzzles the media selection in knowledge transfer practices. Then, how do media influence knowledge transfer systematically? How do individuals and firms choose media effectively in knowledge transfer? As a result, a more effective media selection framework and model in knowledge transfer with systemic thinking should be developed to advance existing studies and guide media selection practices (Carlson & Zmud, 1999; Davenport & Prusak, 1998; Dennis, Fuller, & Valacich, 2008).

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