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Knowledge transfer obstructs knowledge application: Qualitative study on open innovation

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  • Shohei Funatsu
  • Yasuo Sugiyama

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between the processes through which a firm introduces or absorbs knowledge, and those through which it is applied within the firm by focusing on the in-bound type of “open innovation” process. Existing studies do not pay much attention to knowledge application and have hardly examined the relationship between knowledge transfer and application. If the transfer and application are qualitatively different, or in a mutually obstructing relationship, knowledge application would require specific management. We offer three key findings based on qualitative analysis of interviews and participant fieldwork data. As a result of the analysis, we assert the following conclusion. First, if the knowledge is more novel to the recipient, the motivation for open innovation increases, but the uncertainty in knowledge application increases at the same time. Second, if the uncertainty in knowledge application is high, or if the knowledge is novel or implicit to the recipient, the need for additional investment by firms such as establishing a new department or managing specialists will increase in order to maintain or accumulate the knowledge. Finally, if the recipient homogenizes to the source as scientific researchers, the homogenization promotes transfer but obstructs application.

Suggested Citation

  • Shohei Funatsu & Yasuo Sugiyama, 2017. "Knowledge transfer obstructs knowledge application: Qualitative study on open innovation," Discussion papers e-17-010, Graduate School of Economics , Kyoto University.
  • Handle: RePEc:kue:epaper:e-17-010
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    Keywords

    open innovation; knowledge transfer; absorptive capacity; knowledge management; grounded theory approach;
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