Personal networks and knowledge transfer in inter-organizational networks

N. Rejeb, L. Mezghani, B. QUÉLIN

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

2011, vol. 18, n°2, pp.278-297

Departments: Strategy & Business Policy, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Knowledge transfer, Best practice, Learning organizations, Information management

Purpose– The purpose of this paper is to test the transfer of good practices under the effect of various aspects of personal networks. Whereas, the majority of former work considers a direct effect of networks on knowledge transfer, the authors examined two intermediate mechanisms: the access to strategic resources and the individual's absorptive capacity.Design/methodology/approach– A quantitative study was used to collect data, via a face-to-face questionnaire with key individuals in small and medium entreprises members of consortia in Tunisia. Data were analysed with a structural equations approach, based on partial least squared-path modelling techniques.Findings– Results emphasize the impact of network size, strength of ties and absorptive capacity on the strategic resource access and the impact of indirect ties, strength and range of ties on the absorptive capacity. Moreover, while absorptive capacity positively impacts good practice transfer, no support was found to the effect of resource access.Research limitations/implications– The main limitation of this study concerns the measuring of good practice transfer, since in literature there are often imprecise proxies. Also, while the authors have investigated the global impact of strategic resources, future research needs to treat them separately. Finally, a longitudinal study allows better capture of the evolution of the phenomenon studied.Practical implications– Top management and directors at a consortium level need to pay careful attention to the social context within which knowledge transfer efforts occur. Resources exchanged and the absorptive capacity developed through social interactions must be designed to increase knowledge flows between firms.Originality/value– The paper links two bodies of research often studied separately in inter-organizational research: literature on social networks and that on inter-organizational learning. It is hoped that the paper contributes to a cross-fertilization of the two fields