Factors Affecting Knowledge Acquisition

Factors Affecting Knowledge Acquisition

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8318-1.ch010

Abstract

Although there is a growing literature on knowledge management, limited attention has been paid to the factors that influence the process of knowledge acquisition. Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is to bring forward the main elements that may stimulate or inhibit knowledge acquisition at both the individual and organizational level. Knowledge acquisition is mainly affected by a company's absorptive capacity, organizational context and structure, and inter-firm alliances. These may increase the firm's awareness of the external challenges and stimulate inter-organizational interactions. The impact of each of these factors is highly visible in the context of international joint ventures. Still, in this case, another factor interferes, namely cultural specificity.
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Introduction

Knowledge management makes available the right knowledge to the right people at the right time to deal with complex and ever-changing organizational environment (Becerra-Fernandez & Sabherwal, 2010; Bennet, D. & Bennet, A., 2003; Dalkir, 2005; Jashapara, 2011; O’Dell & Hubert, 2011). Therefore, it relies on a series of complex processes such as: knowledge acquisition, creation, sharing and use. Each of them captured researchers’ attention and has been analyzed in the specialized literature. I have already addressed some of these issues in the previous chapters.

Although there is a growing literature on knowledge management and the framework of analysis varies from individual (Siemsen, Roth & Balasubramanian, 2008) to organizational (Bettiol, Di Maria & Grandinetti, 2012; Merat & Bo, 2013; Nonaka, von Krogh & Voelpel, 2006) and national level (Gallego, Rubalcaba & Suarez, 2013; Ståhle & Bounfour, 2008), and from highlighting the effects of using knowledge management processes, methods and techniques (Bouncken & Kraus, 2013; Stanko & Olleros, 2013) to measuring organization’s intellectual capital (Lu, Wang, Tung & Liu, 2010; Tovstiga & Tulugurova, 2009), limited attention has been paid to the influence factors of knowledge acquisition. It is true that knowledge is dynamic and it circulates inside and outside company’s boundaries, but in order for these activities to be efficient, some specific elements must be taken into account. Things don’t just happen; the law of action and reaction is even more important in the business environment, where the global economies are interconnected, and the suppliers, manufacturers and customers depend of one another. A change that occurs in one domain of activity is transmitted to the other ones like a shock wave. Therefore, managers must be aware that some internal and external factors may stimulate or inhibit knowledge acquisition, creation, sharing and use. Not taking into consideration these issues reduces organizational performance, firm’s capacity of innovation and company’s position on the market (Ahmad, Mohamad & Ibrahim, 2013; Arbussa & Coenders, 2007; Lichtenthaler, 2009).

As a consequence, in this chapter, I will bring forward the main elements that may stimulate or inhibit knowledge acquisition at both individual and organizational level. I will discuss the impact of absorptive capacity, organizational context and structure (mission, vision and goals, trust, formal and informal organizational structures), and inter-firm alliances (learner’s intention and capacity, relational capital, ties strength and trust). I will also focus on the factors that interfere on the process of knowledge acquisition from inside the international joint-ventures.

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