Purpose – The authors draw selectively on theories of learning and knowledge, which currently have received little attention from knowledge translation (KT) researchers, and suggest how they might usefully inform future development of the KT literature. The purpose of this paper is to provide conceptual tools and strategies for the growing number of managers, clinicians and decision makers navigating this arena. Design/methodology/approach – The authors conducted a narrative review to synthesise two streams of literature and examine evolving conceptual landscape concerning knowledge translation over the previous three decades. Conceptual mapping was used iteratively to develop and synthesise the literature. Iterative feedback from relevant research and practice stakeholder groups was used to focus and strengthen the review. Findings – KT has been conceptualised along three competing frames; one focusing on linear (largely unidirectional) transfer of knowledge; one focusing on KT as a social process; and another that seeks to more fully incorporate contextual issues in understanding research implementation. Three overlapping themes are found in the management literature that inform these debates in the health literature, namely knowledge boundaries, organisational learning and absorptive capacity. Literature on knowledge boundaries problematizes the nature of boundaries and the stickiness of knowledge. Organisational learning conceptualises the need for organisational wide systems to facilitate learning processes; it also draws on a more expansive view of knowledge. Absorptive capacity focuses at the firm level on the role of developing organisational capabilities that enable the identification, assimilation and use of new knowledge to enable innovation. Research limitations/implications – The paper highlights the need to consider KT processes at multiple levels, including individual, organisational and strategic levels. These are important not only for research but also have practical implications for individuals and organisations involved in KT processes. Originality/value – This review summarises and integrates two largely separate literature streams on knowledge translation – namely health services research and management scholarship. In addition to outlining and organising the conceptual landscape around knowledge transfer, the paper contributes by highlighting how management literature on knowledge and learning theories might inform health services research on knowledge translation.
Journal of Health Organisation and Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 2, 2013
Keywords: Knowledge sharing; Literature; Implementation; Management theory; Improvement; Information management; Learning; Knowledge transfer
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