Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to study the obstacles to knowledge transfer between organizations belonging to different cultures by making use of the socialization–externalization – combination – internalization (SECI) model. The contribution made by this paper is in the use of the SECI model for studying this type of issue. Although it recognizes the epistemological duality between tacit and explicit knowledge, the traditional literature had not adopted this theoretical structure. The explanation for this is an excessively simplistic interpretation of the SECI model in its 1995 version together with a lack of knowledge about Nonaka’s more recent works – Nonaka et al. (2008). Design/methodology/approach – The authors use a comparative case study opposing a failure and a success, and rely on Latour controversies to account for the context and contradictions. One of the authors worked for five years as a mediator in these projects and adopted the reflective practitioner posture of Schön. Findings – Using the SECI model is relevant for studying this question. The results obtained converge with the literature and mark the SECI’s first stage – socialization – as an operation of major importance. The authors show that the failure in knowledge transfer is due to a deficit of socialization, as the lack of prolonged situations of co-presence of the actors, i.e. the lack of shared context, impedes knowledge conversion. Research limitations/implications – To go further, conditions of the socialization context must be better specified and developed. Second, cases in other areas than the health sector to observe the circulation of knowledge could be developed. Practical implications – The findings suggest ways for managers to fight against knowledge transfer barriers in multicultural contexts, relying on the socialization process. Social implications – Accounting for the problem of knowledge transfer in a multicultural context through the SECI model, which focusses on the interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge, opens a fruitful line of reflexion. It would organize trips for French managers in China with a strong intercultural dimension. Originality/value – Accounting for the problem of knowledge transfer in a multi culural context through the SECI model, which focusses on the interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge, opens a fruitful line of reflexion.
Journal of Knowledge Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 14, 2015
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