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Knowledge transfer in MNCs: Examining how intrinsic motivations and knowledge sourcing impact individual centrality and performance

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  • Teigland, Robin
  • Wasko, Molly

Abstract

Studies investigating individual performance in knowledge-intensive work are finding that individual performance is a result, to some degree, of obtaining the right information to solve novel, challenging problems. Yet we know little about the role that the individual plays in the knowledge processes in multinationals and the relationship between individual knowledge sourcing activities and performance. Our expectation is that successful knowledge transfer will be based on an individual's intrinsic motivation, access to knowledge from explicit or tacit knowledge sources within and across firm boundaries, and position in the overall advice network of the multinational corporation. Using survey and social network data collected in one multinational consulting firm, we investigated the knowledge sourcing activities and informal advice networks for 1439 of the entire 1698 individuals in one multinational spread across 28 offices (84.7% response rate). Through hierarchical regression analysis we find that 1) intrinsic motivations are strongly related to creativity and efficiency and 2) MNCs should support individual level activities that include not only the use of internal knowledge sources but also the use of external knowledge sources. Research results also suggest that 3) there are different patterns of knowledge sourcing activities based on whether efficient or creative performance is the goal and 4) these differ significantly depending upon the functional group to which the individual belongs. Implications for theories of the knowledge-based view of the multinational corporation and practical implications for managers are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Teigland, Robin & Wasko, Molly, 2009. "Knowledge transfer in MNCs: Examining how intrinsic motivations and knowledge sourcing impact individual centrality and performance," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 15-31, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:intman:v:15:y:2009:i:1:p:15-31
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Philip McCann & Ram Mudambi, 2005. "Analytical Differences in the Economics of Geography: The Case of the Multinational Firm," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 37(10), pages 1857-1876, October.
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    6. Manju K. Ahuja & Dennis F. Galletta & Kathleen M. Carley, 2003. "Individual Centrality and Performance in Virtual R& D Groups: An Empirical Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(1), pages 21-38, January.
    7. Foss, Nicolai J. & Pedersen, Torben, 2002. "Transferring knowledge in MNCs: The role of sources of subsidiary knowledge and organizational context," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 49-67.
    8. Nicolai Juul Foss & Torben Pedersen, 2004. "Organizing knowledge processes in the multinational corporation: an introduction," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 35(5), pages 340-349, September.
    9. von Hippel, Eric, 1987. "Cooperation between rivals: Informal know-how trading," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 291-302, December.
    10. Ingmar Björkman & Wilhelm Barner-Rasmussen & Li Li, 2004. "Managing knowledge transfer in MNCs: the impact of headquarters control mechanisms," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 35(5), pages 443-455, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tippmann, Esther & Sharkey Scott, Pamela & Mangematin, Vincent, 2014. "Subsidiary managers’ knowledge mobilizations: Unpacking emergent knowledge flows," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 431-443.
    2. Aalbers, Rick & Dolfsma, Wilfred & Koppius, Otto, 2013. "Individual connectedness in innovation networks: On the role of individual motivation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 624-634.
    3. Peltokorpi, Vesa, 2015. "Corporate Language Proficiency and Reverse Knowledge Transfer in Multinational Corporations: Interactive Effects of Communication Media Richness and Commitment to Headquarters," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 49-62.
    4. repec:hal:gemwpa:hal-00864324 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Ambos, Tina C. & Ambos, Björn & Eich, Katharina J. & Puck, Jonas, 2016. "Imbalance and Isolation: How Team Configurations Affect Global Knowledge Sharing," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 316-332.
    6. Randi Lunnan & Youzhen Zhao, 2014. "Regional headquarters in China: Role in MNE knowledge transfer," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 397-422, June.

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