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Internal and external sources of tacit knowledge: evidence from the Chinese optical fibre and cable industry


  • Xiaolan Fu
  • Jizhen Li
  • Martin Johnson


This paper provides an analysis of the relative significance of various methods of acquiring tacit knowledge within the Chinese optical fibre and cable industry. The paper contributes to the definition, understanding and investigation of tacit knowledge using firm-level data in a developing country context, helping to complete a gap in the existing broader literature on technological learning. The research suggests that in industries where tacit knowledge is a more important component of technological learning than codified knowledge, internal R&D activities and domestic peers are important knowledge sources. Additionally, universities are shown to be an important asset in creating learning organisations and provide effective knowledge sources of both tacit and codified knowledge. However, imports of equipment and licensing are a less effective learning channel in the acquisition of tacit foreign technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Xiaolan Fu & Jizhen Li & Martin Johnson, 2011. "Internal and external sources of tacit knowledge: evidence from the Chinese optical fibre and cable industry," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(4), pages 383-399, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jocebs:v:9:y:2011:i:4:p:383-399
    DOI: 10.1080/14765284.2011.618597

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