Transferring codified knowledge: socio-technical versus top-down approaches
Purpose. This paper analyses and evaluates the transfer process of Codified Knowledge (CK) performed under two different approaches: the 'socio-technical' and the 'top-down'. It argues that the socio-technical approach supports the transfer of CK better than the top-down approach. Methodology. Case study methodology was used in the explanatory and qualitative study. The empirical evidence focused on the development of work standards following ISO9000 norms at a steelworks plant. This process was examined as a process of CK transfer. Findings. First, the socio-technical approach supports the process of CK transfer better than the top-down view. Second, CK is a dynamic concept that may need varying amounts of tacit knowledge in order to enable knowledge codification and assimilation. Third, the degree of context and task similarity between sender and receiving units needs to be detailed, since small variations in organisational processes might imply significant alterations to informal work practices, a key issue that affects the CK transfer process. Research Implications. This study may, on the one hand, assist to further develop theories of knowledge transfer, such as Argote et al.'s (2003) integrative knowledge management framework. On the other hand, it complements Szulanski's (2000) research since he did not explore the approach used during the implementation process. Originality. By focusing on different approaches to transfer CK, this study has filled a research gap in the CK transfer literature. Key words: Codified knowledge, knowledge transfer, ISO9000.
The Learning Organization