Role of SOR Theory in Business Tourism Activities for Effective Knowledge Transfer: Pluralistic Learning Theory for Project Knowledge Transfer

Role of SOR Theory in Business Tourism Activities for Effective Knowledge Transfer: Pluralistic Learning Theory for Project Knowledge Transfer

Sadia Hanif (Foundation University, Pakistan) and Ali Ahsan (Chifley Business School, Torrens University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3142-6.ch005


This study takes on a course of “phenomenon before theory” approach. For that purpose, firstly, the phenomenon regarding knowledge transfer barriers is developed, and then it is confirmed through expert suggestions. Knowledge transfer theories from project management literature are then applied and systematically reviewed against observed phenomenon to obtain the desired solutions. The systematic review of knowledge transfer theories is conducted through content analysis. The observed gaps are then filled with pluralism with components of required theories. The findings were that the discussed theories are not fully mitigating the knowledge transfer hitches. The most important factor for competence development is effective learning during the knowledge transfer activities which has not been addressed by the knowledge transfer theories. The chapter proposes a “Pluralistic Learning Theory for Project Knowledge Transfer” as a practical solution for all sorts of business tourism activities to transfer knowledge effectively.
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In Pakistan after the arrival of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the business tourism opportunities developed and has increased day by day, both at Public Sector institutes and even in universities. There are lots of opportunities for a developing country Pakistan to learn technological, management and administrative skills from a developed country China. In this regard, the various centres of excellence developed at public sector institutes and universities but still due to lack of awareness those institutes were not working in a way to transfer knowledge effectively as mostly done in excellence centres of developed countries. Besides, there are various knowledge transfer problems on ground regarding absorptive capacities, motivation to learn, willingness and absence of effective training/instructing methodologies. These knowledge transfer barriers were hitching the flow of knowledge from various channels of CPEC in the form of trainings, workshops, seminars, conferences, discussions, working together opportunities, sharing of knowledge, and thinking about change.

After the inauguration of CPEC, the business tourism activities increased at public sector organizations. The website of the ‘Islamabad Policy Research Institute’ provides a detailed list of seminars, conferences, workshops, pieces of training and discussions related to CPEC. The universities in Pakistan also organized various seminars conferences and symposiums to introduce the benefits of CPEC. The public sector organizations send their employees for pieces of training and workshops to China to learn updated skills.

The public organizations and CPEC work process has been implemented in the form of projects. Pakistan public sector organizations were already at project management maturity level 2, as according to Ali (2010), there were various problems in project management at all phases of projects in all knowledge areas as shown in table 1.

Table 1.
Issues faced by Public sector Project Management in Pakistan
PhasesPM IssuesCultural IssuesIssues related to LDCsPSOs issues
InitiationLack of proper costing, design, and activity duration estimationUnrealistic claims to please the bossPolitical involvement/ pressure in selecting the project, Lack of fundsLengthy project approval
PlanningLack of stakeholder, risk,quality, communication management and planningContractor not following the plan, lack of involvement of middle managersLack of feasibility study on medium to small-scale projects, Lack of skilled staff, No written policy in selecting project team members
ExecutionScope changes, project managers have limited decision powerFear of change, executives not willing to delegate powers,Lack of capacity in the organization to implement the project, Capacity issues with contractors, equipment, resources, and data management
MonitoringAttempt to provide wrong information, no electronic data management systemLack of following the SOPsLack of accountability
Lack of attention by the authorities, biases
ClosingNo lessons learned and benefit achieved report

Source: Ali, A. (2010). Investigating project management practices in public sector organizations of a less developed country

Key Terms in this Chapter

Absorptive capacity: The extent to which a firm can recognize the value of new external information, assimilate it, and apply it toward achieving organizational goals (Miles, 2012 AU134: The in-text citation "Miles, 2012" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , p. 17).

SOR (Stimulus-Organism-Response): A theory by Mehrabian and Russell describes how people react to stimuli in the environment.

Training: Training includes giving of information and knowledge, through speech, the written word or other methods of demonstration in a manner that instructs the trainee.

Phenomenon Before Theory: The researcher immerses him/herself into the phenomenon, understands it deeply, and views it with fresh eyes without the bias of prior theories and the interpretations of prior models and methods (Tellis, 2017 AU136: The in-text citation "Tellis, 2017" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , p. 3).

Motivation: Refers to inferences to have a positive learning behaviours.

Intuitions: The intuitive thinking is developed by contemplation without the use of analytical reasoning.

Inferences: An effortful cognitive process that is typically based on proportional premises and conclusions.

Knowledge Base: The prerequisite of absorptive capacity.

Willingness: Confidence or readiness to learn.

Competence: Refers to the ability to do something. Competence demonstrates the ability to apply learnt knowledge ( Epstein & Hundert, 2002 ).

Expert Interviews: Obtaining additional unknown and reliable information on the topic under study from experts. Such interviews are always open ended in order to allow the experts to tell their point of view on the issues and processes of research (Ilya, 2011 AU135: The in-text citation "Ilya, 2011" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Knowledge Transfer: Ko et al. (2005) defined knowledge transfer as “the communication of knowledge from a source that is learned and applied by a receipt” (p. 62).

Phenomena: An observable fact or event.

Pluralism: In case of absence of presence of relevant theories to real problems, it is possible in principal to construct several different theories for the explanation of the same ‘data’, and by doing so may contribute to the growth of knowledge (Kalima, 1972 AU137: The in-text citation "Kalima, 1972" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Eight Window Model: The expert window was located as a quadrant along with two-axis ‘think-knows’, the four windows of quadrant were named according to the special characteristics of experts in that window, that is, the typical experts, key experts, theoretical experts, and false experts.

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