Knowledge transfer between globally dispersed units at BMW
Purpose - Building on the social network view and new product development perspective, the purpose of this paper is to examine how knowledge is transferred between identical, yet geographically distant units within a multinational corporation. Design/methodology/approach - An embedded case study of Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) examining core drivers that impact on inter-unit knowledge transfers between six events and exhibitions (E&E) units located in Europe, Asia, and Australasia. Findings - The data highlight that effective knowledge transfer between E&E units depends on a combination of key drivers, such as social network ties, absorptive capacity, learning adaptiveness, and communication channels. The findings suggest that the search for and transfer of knowledge depends foremost on the applicability of context-specific knowledge rather than its complexity. Research limitations/implications - The focus is on one specific manufacturing sector and specific drivers to knowledge transfer in this sector, limiting the generalisation of the findings. Also, the findings were drawn from a limited sample of in-depth practitioner interviews and did not integrate any outcome measures to successful knowledge transfer in their approach. Practical implications - The paper offers guidelines for firms and specifically E&E managers to observe the specificity of knowledge and how this affects its limited applicability for other identical units. Originality/value - Managers foremost need is to examine the unique context under which knowledge is acquired; only then are they in a position to decide how much knowledge transfer via different network and communication channels is needed between geographically dispersed E&E units.
Journal of Knowledge Management
Business Information Management (incl. Records, Knowledge and Information Management, and Intelligence)