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Effect of Knowledge Transfer on Organisational Learning

Info: 5496 words (22 pages) Dissertation
Published: 13th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Workplace TrainingKnowledge Management


I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to my supervisor Dr Zahra Salimi, for her valuable pragmatic advice and outstanding guidance during this research.

I’m particularly thankful to all my staff for their constant support from frome work viewpoint that has allowed me to complete this research.

Many thanks to Papyrus organisation, management and employees who have participate.

Finally, I would like to thank my wife Nashmeel who has been extremely supportive and patient during the time of my studies, this is dedicated to her and my boys Ayman, Shkar, and Ahmad.


The concept of knowledge management has attracted widespread interest and has been the subject of study from numerous practitioners and researchers over a long period of time. There is strong believes among world business that knowledge management is one of the most important factor for success of organisations, Romer, (1993). Therefore as individuals fail to gain employment within both formal and informal sectors, the idea of having one’s own business becomes more competitive and attractive (Aderemi et al.2008). Business leaders and managers within the printing industry for example, face an increasing threat from the growing capabilities of the internet (and its related technologies) and their influence on how traditional business models find an alternative strategy for their business operation. (Andrew,1998) cited in, Cope and Freeman, 2002, p. 183). Managements of organisations are constantly looking for thebest ways to achieve better results and performances. In recent years the nature and sources of organisational knowledge transfer within international business have received a great deal of interest, mainly due to the huge impact thatknowledge transfers make in anorganisation’s competitive advantage, thereby knowledge transfer can be the establishment for people’s relation. Roberts, (2000) hence organisational knowledge becomes the main focus of thought for many business practitioners and academic researchers, Harrison (2009).

This research serves to explore the process of knowledge management level within Papyrus Design, and to offers recommendations to improve the level of transfer of knowledge between the organisation’s employees and its affect on organisational learning and performance. The aim of this study however is to concentrate on the adoption and use of knowledge management approaches and how these have contributed to the effectiveness and efficiency of the knowledge management process in establishing different approaches which can be adopted at Papyrus Design. Today the contexts of using Knowledge transfer within an organisation are very important and popular, there are many driving forces behind these popularities and can be explore some of those factors. Firstly, the interest of organisations in the development of knowledge management and learning of employees. Secondly, the requirement for existing methods of learning transfers knowledge to match the need of continuous development of knowledge management for employees. Thirdly, the need for flexibility’s need in terms of the employee’s knowledge development process and learning.

The Papyrus Design organisation is one of the most dynamic and trendy organisations in the North West of England. Based in Manchester and established 15 years ago, the company have over 35 employees. The main production’s company is printing and marketing advertisement, the company’s management structure is control management style The control management style is not helpful to learning organisation’s feature that’s necessary to improve organisational learning, there is main manager for all departments and each department have their own manager which are the Design department and the Production department its include finishing and packing sections.

Strategic significance of the research:

The area to be investigated is the level of transfer knowledge inside the organisation and how this affects’ organisational learning. The fact that motivated author was in what extent knowledge management system existing within Papyrus Design, This raised the matter of whether the knowledge transfer is already exist but however not been well established and formulated, and to clarify the importance of advantage and opportunity of knowledge transfer among employees inside organisation. And how the organisation’s can be beneficial from using knowledge transfer system? The investigation outcome of existing knowledge management system within SMEs in North West of England showing that majority of them does not have the knowledge management system. Moreover the results of research presents on the extent to which knowledge management approaches were being used within UK by SMEs. The main finding is that SMEs are generally not aware of how knowledge transfer possibly be create by using of knowledge management system, Koh and Maguire (2004).

Learning organisation is an organisation skilful at generating, achieving and transferring knowledge, and adapting its performance to reflect new knowledge such as organisations can transfer knowledge successfully from one part to another and hence they are much more creative and will have a greater chance in surviving than those that do not adapt. Generally an organisation can recognise extraordinary increases in performances during knowledge transfer; however successful knowledge transfer is not easy to achieve. (Argote, et .al, 2000, cited in ,Chauvet , 2003). Organizational learning it’s a way to the process of developing performance to better knowledge and understanding. (Fiol and Lyles, 1985, p.803)

This approach is showing that organisation better with long-term results, Organisational learning is a long-term activity that can create competitive advantages over time and need management’s consideration constantly. Every organisation should be able to learn; some of them learn better than others and can survive whilst at the same time are the successful learners, but the ones that do not succeed in learning will, in the end, disappear.(Easterby-Smith,et.al, 2004). The difficulty in knowledge transfer in organisations rise above the individual rank to take in transfer at higher levels of analysis, such as the group, product line, department, or division. For instance, one manufacturing team can learn from other departments on how to better collect a product, or a geographical division may learn a different approach to product aim from its partner in another division.

We can measure knowledge transfer by the changes in performance and knowledge. when one sector becomes affected by another in an organisation therefore we can understand that knowledge transfer is happening. The conclusion is, organisation knowledge transfer shows itself by changes in the learning knowledge or performance at the time of units’ recipient.

Furthermore, the strategic importance of this research can help strengthen the PAPYRUS DESIGN in the way of clarify any strength, weakness and opportunities and can suggest recommendation which help new employees learning. By giving attention to those the research objectives were summarised as the following shows:

The research aim and objectives:

§ To investigate the level of knowledge transfer within Papyrus Design organisation.

§ To propose recommendation how knowledge management improve organisational performance

Literature Review:

Knowledge Management

Knowledge management concept been put dawn as most recent development in management study (Easterby-Smith and Lyles 2005).and suggestion by( Hansenal ,1999) that knowledge management always been used by organisations however but not on purpose or systematic approach .Knowledge management during the 1990s becomes very popular by (Nonaka and Takeuchi’s,1995) Regardless of its popularity there will be still a level of confusion in term of defining knowledge management (Cong and Pandya, 2003; Vera and Grossan, 2005).

Three topics been identify within knowledge management study by Scarborough and Swan (2005), literature; performance improvement, , describing managing knowledge as resource strategy and the storage and process of knowledge .Knowledge management been summarise by Vera and Grossan (2005) as “managed learning” and assumption will result a positive effect on performance , the theories and concept of knowledge management are prescriptive in the matter of what can be doing by organisation in order to manage knowledge. Organisational learning conversely is showing as resource can provide the study and regarding competitive advantage is concerned about the process of the way knowledge is developed, created ,transferred and shared (Argote and Ingram, 2000; Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995; Pisano, 1994; Szulanski, 1996), the other view about organisational knowledge is partly stored inside peoples as sort of skills, personal ability and experience , and some other parts into the organisation in the appearance of regulations ,rules and standards (Weick and Roberts 1993). Therefore can provide some definitions for knowledge management as below:

Van der Spek and Spijkervet (1997 p43) The explicit control and knowledge management inside organisation meant to reach objectives of the company.

O’Leary (1998 p34) the proper way of management of knowledge helping creation, reprocess and access of knowledge, using advanced technology properly.

Bassi (1999 p424) the creating process, using and capturing knowledge in order to improve organisational performance.

Liebowitz and Wilcox (1997 pi) the organisation’s ability to manage, value, store and distribute knowledge.

Cong and Pandya (2003 p27) the organisation’s ability to use their collective knowledge during knowledge generations process, exploitation and sharing allowed by technology to reach their objectives.

its widely recognized that knowledge has two types ; explicit, (in this type knowledge has at minimum been “captured” and expressed and has perfectly been “codified”, that is , structured, documented and disseminated) , tacit ( this types of knowledge is living in individual’s heads or “muscle memory” and it’s possible to be destined to stay there), Lynne ( 2001). Through processing of education, socialization and learning can knowledge to be transferred (Roberts J, 2000). Knowledge transfer in organizations is the process through which one unit (group, department, or section) getting affect by the experience of another. (Argote, L Ingram P, 2000). The establishment and transfer of knowledge within an organisation it has developed crucial factors in an organisation’s success and competitiveness. It is important to understand what does knowledge transfer mean? (Major and Cordey-Hayes, 2002, p. 422) cited in(Syed-Ikhsan S, Rowland F,2004) suggesting that Transfer of knowledge is a transportation of knowledge from one position, individual, ownership, etc, to another one, furthermore, there must be involvement of two or more parties and the ground for foundation and destination same time. Normally when something is transferred, someone benefits from it and someone else will lose as a result. However knowledge which is considered as intangible resources is different from tangible sources, because tangible resources expect the value to be reduced when they are used, therefore when someone transfers their knowledge, they will not lose it. As a result knowledge will grow therefore individual shares the knowledge they have (Syed-Ikhsan and Rowland, 2004). Knowledge transfer is the process during the affectation of one group member by the experience of another group, usually knowledge transfer can show itself during changes of performance or knowledge of the unit’s recipient.

Knowledge sometime can showed similar to product – something out there, it’s possible searched out, obtained ,measured ,codified and distributed across the firm , knowledge can also be view as a process, ,rising from within the people but intimately formed by relations with other peoples. However we can see knowledge as dynamic because knowledge changes when people’s interpretation of the world around them changes (Harrison R, 2009). The organization that can transfer successfully production development mad at one organization to another will be more creative than its counterparts who are unsuccessful at knowledge transfer (Goodman & Darr, 1996) cited by (Argote L, 2005).

It’s helpful to look at some of authors view to find out what means to them knowledge management, and why they believes that knowledge cannot be managed? can be began with the “founding fathers” of the concept, possibly the founding father- Karl Erik Sveiby, in 1990 ,wrote about subject his first book under the title, ‘Kunskapledning’ in Swedish (Sveiby, 1990). Generally researchers within academic field and teachers not need to be “stuck with” whatever unsuccessful to resist to rigorous analysis, but it’s fascinating can see the founders of “knowledge management” is unhappy with the term However the following are much more individual views:

I don’t believe knowledge can be managed. Knowledge Management is a poor term, but we are stuck with it, I suppose. “Knowledge Focus” or “Knowledge Creation” (Nonaka) are better terms, because they describe a mindset, which sees knowledge as activity not an object. A is a human vision, not a technological one. (Sveiby, 2001. Cited in Wilson, 2002).

One of the first one to write about the “knowledge society” and “ knowledge economy” concept Drucker,(1969) and argue about the idea that knowledge can be managed.

Drucker, scoffs at the notion of knowledge management. “You can’t manage knowledge “ he says, 2knowledge is between two ears, and only between two ears” To that extent, Drucker says it’s really about what individual workers do with the knowledge they have. When employees leave accompany, he says, their knowledge goes with them, no matter how much they’ve shared. (Drucker, 1969. Cited in Wilson,2002).

Types of Knowledge:

Knowledge can be recognized as two types: tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge (Polyani, 1966). Polyani argues that tacit knowledge it’s something belong to personal but is still stay as a personified when the meeting happen between the people and culture he belong to, (Polanyi,1962, 1966) . the point of Polany’s concept about “tacit” is means “hidden” tacit knowledge is means hidden knowledge, hidden even from knower’s consciousness, this is the grounds Polanyi have the expression “We know more than we can tell” this expression even used by those they mis-use the concept and they believe this hidden knowledge , unreachable to the consciousness of knower, and in some ways can be captured.( Wilson,2002).

Tacit knowledge has two dimensions; first one is technical dimension, which is cover the type of informal personal skills or crafts often referred to as (know-how). Second one is the cognitive dimension; it based of values, beliefs, ideals, schemata, and mental models (James et. al, 1999-2000). Tacit knowledge is where people have the knowledge in their minds; it is very difficult to transfer or share with other people. Tacit knowledge is considered as very personal and strongly rooted from people’s ideas, experiences, values and emotions. The technical part is indicating with specific capability and skill it has been developed (Nonaka and Takeuchi 1995), Tacit knowledge is useful knowledge can be using it to perform a task, and this type of knowledge is used as a method in order to handling what’s been concentrate on (Sveiby, 1997, p. 30). Therefore tacit knowledge within business context is: action-oriented, practical, context-linked, experience-based and personal, but the work done by tacit knowledge has to be examined for strength ,quality, and reductions in term of product costs . however , there are many argument within literature see that tacit knowledge is which diced to what degree businesses within global economy and turbulent market will be competitive (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Spender & Grant, 1996; Sweeney, 1996; Teece, Pisano, & Schuen, 1997). Furthermore tacit knowledge has a personal quality and is hard to take out from the individual’s mind thereby making it difficult to transfer and communicate. This type of knowledge is deeply rooted in action, commitment and involvement in a particular context (Nonaka, I. and Takeuchi, H. 1995).

Explicit knowledge is codified and can be precisely and properly expressed. It is much more formal and efficient, possible to communicate and easy to transfer. This type of knowledge has been described by individuals and assumed that it isuseful knowledge of individual within the firm. This kind of knowledge is likely more specific and objective, connecting to past activities (Nonaka, I. and Takeuchi, H. 1995).

Explicit knowledge is emphasised more, both in literature and practice, therefore this type of knowledge can be passed on across people formally and easily.

Cook and Brown (1999) challenging that by knowing tacit and explicit knowledge only are not enough to completely understand the knowledge concept , they see the knowledge idea have to be added to the response what someone really knows. As tacit and explicit knowledge overcomes by individuals, knowing it will be about “practice” and interconnect with the physical and social world. Mainly knowledge concern with cognitive function such as facts and skills (know what) as more knowledge concern by knowledge of behaviour as action (know how) (Vera and Grossan 2005). The other fact referring to knowledge is practical as it seats more emphasis on individual actually putting knowledge within practice instate of just its transfer, creation and storage. Brown and Duguid (1998). However they suggesting that the core capability of organisations needs the knowledge (know how) to place knowledge (know what) within practice. Cook and Brown (1999) also suggesting put the factors of knowledge and knowing inside learning perspective by proposing they are learning processes content , that learning is a change within knowledge and knowing, it will result in changes to individuals behaviour and cognition.

The use of Knowledge

Organisational learning’s most important consideration is how the knowledge used Nutley and Davis (2001 p36) they suggesting that present and past management of knowledge is the organisational learning’s important part. Organisational learning concerning also about adaptation and building of knowledge (Stonehouse and Pemberton 1999), has been confirmed that one of the most important role about people’s learning is showing the way to organisational knowledge (Pemberton and Stonehouse 2000). Nonaka and Takeuchi’s (1995) .Knowledge creation model offers an understandable view about the organisational learning impact on knowledge management, clarifying the development of knowledge transfer among peoples, group, inter-organisational levels and organisation. However Alder et al (1999) recommend the role of management is to create best environment for learning that can help individuals and organisation’s interactions in order to build and share knowledge. This needs from organisations to provide a processes or system available in order to obtain knowledge to change or developing “the organisations that purposely search for developing organisational learning are most of the time describe as learning organisations” (Nutley and Davies 2001 p36). The concept of learning organisations was seeing as an important element to organisations capability to deal with continuous (Dixon 1994).

Despite the growing attention within organizational learning. Those organisations are competent learners are described as “learning organisations”, Garvin (1993) defined a learning organisation as “ an organisation acquiring, skilled at creating, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reproduce new knowledge and insights” . Organisational learning viewed by most scholars as a development, a cognitive enterprise which over time unfolds .but they different on other matters which is more important, there are some they believes that change of behavioural is necessary for learning(Fiol and Lyles 1985), but there are others believe new ways of thinking it will be enough (Huber, 1991), and some others emphasizing that tangible market , the information process systems i.e.,( dissemination and information generation ) as a instrument during which learning should happen (Sinkula, 1994), the others suggests the need for shared organizational visions, shared mental models, and open-minded approaches in order to solve the problem (Senge,1990, 1992)

Sinkula J. Baker W. Noordewier T. 1997. Journal of Academy of Marketing Science. Volume

Learning Organisations

Senge suggesting that learning organisation is the one continually peoples are develop their ability in order to gain the result they actually wish to and learn how to perform and learn together in best way (Senge,1990). This definition is more relaying on culture inside organisations and motivated people to learn. Garvin (1993 p.80) clarifying learning organisation as the one is acquires, creates, and transferring knowledge’s and adapting its behaviour in order to responses to new knowledge and insights. After this argument can summarised as fallowing:

§ There is clear link between organisational learning and knowledge management.

§ There is a link between learning process and process of knowledge creation.

§ In order to occur organisational learning its require from organisation to develop system and structures that support peoples learning but also encourage the process of social learning and as a result the subsequent creation, capturing and sharing of knowledge.

§ The establishing system is needed for organisation to use and store acquired knowledge as a main capability therefore this helps its adaptation, development and change.

There are some arguments suggesting that there must be difference be made between organisational learning and individual. Although learning of individuals is important to organisations , simply the organisational learning is not the sum each person’s learning .organisation its different than individuals, maintain and develop learning system that not just affect directly their members. However they pass on to others by way of organization histories and norms. (Lawrence &Dyer, 1983; Martin, 1982; Mitroff & Kilmann, 1976) . Hedberg(1981) suggesting that organisational learning although happens through individuals, organisations don’t have brains as a human being , however but they have memories and cognitive systems. as individuals developing their personal habits, personalities, and beliefs over the times , organizations developing ideologies and world views. organizations members come and go, changes leaderships , but the memories of organizations protecting the mental maps, certain behaviours, values and norms over time .

Models for Learning Organisations:

Argyris (1976) suggested a theory of double loop learning which is appropriate to learn how to change underlying assumptions and values. The main theory’s concentration is on problem solving that are ill-structured and complex and which change as problem-solving progress. Argyris and Schon (1978) present models for learning organisations, stand on single and double-loop learning, those types of learning have been used within organisations and recognised as adaptive and generative learning as pointed out by Senge (1990). Single-loop learning occurs when noticing errors and correcting it whilst organisations continue with their current polices and goals. Single-loop learning is the most common form of learning within firms; Senge (1990) describes this type of learning as ‘coping. The theory of Double loop outlined by Argyris & Schon (1974) and is based upon (theory of action) perspective , this point of view evaluates from human beings reality’s viewpoint as actors. Change in behsvior, values, leadership and help others. Generally there are four necessary steps in processing of learning action theory:

§ Finding of espoused and theory-in-use.

§ New meanings invention.

§ New actions production.

§ Generality of results.

Double loop learning involve making any of those steps applying to itself , assumptions underlying current outlooks in double loop learning are hypotheses and questioned about publically testing behavior. The double loop learning’s last result should be improving of decision-making’s effectiveness and enhanced acceptance of mistakes and failures. Can single-loop learning be compared with becoming affective more at what already you’re doing? Whereas double-loop learning is about searching the efficiency of the target. Or in other word (single-loop learning is making things correct, while double-loop learning is making the correct things).

Double-loop learning is not just related to ability of pointing and correcting errors, but also in questioning and adapting existing norms. Double-loop learning is capable of changing anorganisation’s knowledge base, its activities or routines. This type has also been describes by (Senge, 1990) as higher-level learning (or type of learning that can expand the capabilities of an organisation) and strategic learning.

Deutero-learning occurs when the organisations are capable in carrying out single-loop and double-loop learning. It is not possible for the first two types of learning to occur if the organisations are not aware that learning should happen; however awareness of ignorance encourages learning (Nevis,1995).

There is another matter regarding what’s exactly controlling the process and in what extent these types of learning within organisations should occur , the main aims of double-loop learning is to challenge the question and norms, this type of learning if effectively not controlled and managed can lead to disorganisation and disharmony, that will resulting in failure to reach the goals of organisations, generally the organisational learning’s key part is to improving performance or efficiency of organisations. as a result double-loop learning then require to happen within limited time , which might change within organisation according to the levels inside organisation .

A primary weakness within this model is its concentrating learning of individuals. there is no any explanation or clarifying and to offer how learning of individuals is leads or connected to organisational learning. Majority models or theories of organisational learning are concentrating on the organisation’s individual activities, which ends to ‘individual action bias’ (Huysman 1999).these likely over look the playing role by institutional forces, structural conditions ,culture, history and organisational values and norms.

Double-loop and Deutero Learning focuses onwhy and how to change the organisation, whereas single-loop learning is looking at the change and accepting it with no questioning underlying assumptions.

However single and double-loop learning recognized as focusing too deeply on problem based learning.

Another idea of organisational learning being processing constantly is Learning Cycle model. Developing new skills and ability of effectiveness is not dependent on proper training only, but also about taking experience from day to day work. However learning is a continuing process which may be seen as a cycle of ongoing development. It is dependent on our favourite particular stage of this cycle we are relaxing with. We can start learning wherever within the cycle, reliance which way you learn (Dixon N M, 2000). In order for learning to occur one has to complete the cycle; however one must not cross the cycle but go around it. Therefore the learning cycle may apply to both a specific and a general level.

There are four process stages that the learning cycle has to present for learning to happen Argyris and Schon (1978):

Feeling: Learning from a particular knowledge and relating it to individuals; this can be sensitive to other peoples feeling.

Watching: Examining the information before making a decision; should be viewing the situation from different perspectives.

Thinking: Making connections between logical experience and ideas, and reacting to how these logical analyses attach and understand with other ideas or different situations.

Doing: Capability of making things happen by taking necessary action or influence people as well as taking a risk.

The Learning Cycle is attaching in a methodical understanding of learning theory. even though Robert Karplus is in general conceder of this model of instruction as the “father” , its linked go back to the learning theories development of Piaget. To some extent more model’s theoretical discussion as below provided in more psychological conditions. Piaget (1964) recognized four main aspects which he thinks applicable to cognitive reasoning abilities development. The factors are:

    1. Maturation – students must be physically developed and biologically mature and

therefore be able of controlling physically inside their environment.

    1. Experience – students past tangible experience and the capability to remember these experiences are significant for additional development. Piaget draw two kinds of experience: Physical Experience (drawn straight from objects) and Logical-

Mathematical Experience (drawn with actions which influence objects).

  1. Social Communication – students have to have capablility of communicating information through oral language and written .
  2. Equilibration – for cognitive growth, students should be complete a state of cognitive challenge where their existing the operations of mental are not sufficient. The accommodative development (called equilibration) by which dealing student with this new information will affecting cognitive growth.

Knowledge Creation:

The significance of organisation knowledge creation in recent years as a corporate resource has created substantial attention. Many views consider knowledge creation as an important aspect of organizational learning. Knowledge creation is an increase development of interactions between tacit and explicit knowledge, the interactions among those types of knowledge will result to the new knowledge’s creation (James et. al, 1999-2000)The process of knowledge-creating is necessarily context-specific in space, time with others relationships (Nonaka and Toyama, 2003).There are arguments suggest that whilst developing new knowledge by individuals happen the organisation can play an important role in articulating and amplifying that knowledge, therefore the development of theoretical framework can provide an analytical view on the element dimensions of knowledge creation. There are two theories of organisational knowledge creation developed by Nonaka and his colleagues. The first one is epistemological dimension, which is the site of “social interaction” between tacit and explicit knowledge, and therefore knowledge is transformed from one type to another and new knowledge is produced. The second one is “ontological” dimension, which describes the way from individual to inter-organizational knowledge through group and organizational levels. However during this process an individual’s knowledge is improved and crystallized as an element of the knowledge network of an organisation and this process is described as “spiral”.

Nanaka and Takeuchi (1995) suggest that organizational learning results from a process in which individual (tacit) knowledge is transferred upwardly to the organisational level. This development is considering spiral of knowledge conversion come from tacit to explicit. There are some views which suggest that the explicitness of organisational knowledge creation came from exchanges between tacit and expl

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Knowledge management is the process of gathering, organising, analysing and sharing knowledge and information within an organisation with the purpose of making best use of that knowledge. It can also mean the maintenance of systems used to access such knowledge.

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