IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The symbiosis mechanism for effective knowledge transfer


  • S M Jasimuddin

    () (Aberystwyth University)

  • Z Zhang

    (Eastern New Mexico University)


Abstract Knowledge transfer is widely emphasized as a strategic issue for sustainable competitive advantage of an organization. To date, it seems that the soft and hard mechanisms are being employed for knowledge transfer. Although there is considerable variation in the researchers’ views about the role of the two mechanisms of knowledge transfer of an organization, this paper suggests a symbiotic strategy that recognizes the interplay between the soft and hard mechanisms. It is argued that the symbiosis mechanism falls somewhere between the rather divergent mechanisms. Drawing from the analogy of knowledge as an iceberg, the perceived explicitness of knowledge is contended to be the essential determinant for the proposed symbiosis mechanism. The paper then proceeds to analyse the tradeoffs of implementing the symbiosis mechanism. It is found that when an organization has similar unit costs of transferring explicit and tacit knowledge, it can ideally minimize its total knowledge transfer cost, aligning individual's effort with the organization's. The proposed symbiosis approach to knowledge transfer will provide powerful arguments for a more holistic view which is crucial for the effective knowledge transfer. However, it is to be noted that the model is a conceptual one, not an operational one in which the mathematics only explain a structure but do not guide the practitioner to find optimal solutions.

Suggested Citation

  • S M Jasimuddin & Z Zhang, 2009. "The symbiosis mechanism for effective knowledge transfer," Journal of the Operational Research Society, Palgrave Macmillan;The OR Society, vol. 60(5), pages 706-716, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:jorsoc:v:60:y:2009:i:5:d:10.1057_palgrave.jors.2602613
    DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.jors.2602613

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barrett, Michael & Cappleman, Sam & Shoib, Gamila & Walsham, Geoff, 2004. "Learning in Knowledge Communities:: Managing Technology and Context," European Management Journal, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 1-11, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    knowledge transfer; mechanism; symbiosis;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pal:jorsoc:v:60:y:2009:i:5:d:10.1057_palgrave.jors.2602613. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.