An empirical investigation of the process of knowledge transfer in international strategic alliances
Bernard L Simonin
This research proposes and tests a basic model of organizational learning that captures the process of knowledge transfer in international strategic alliances. Based on a cross-sectional sample of 147 multinationals and a structural equation methodology, this study empirically investigates the simultaneous effects of learning intent, learning capacity (LC), knowledge ambiguity, and its two key antecedents – tacitness and partner protectiveness – on technological knowledge transfer. In the interest of expanding our understanding of the organizational mechanisms that both hinder and facilitate learning, the concept of LC is refined into three distinct components: resource-, incentive-, and cognitive-based LC. Further, the strength of the relationships between these theoretical constructs and knowledge transfer is examined in light of the possible moderating effects of organizational culture, firm size, and the form and competitive regime of the alliance. Consistently, learning intent (as a driver) and knowledge ambiguity (as an impediment) emerge as the most significant determinants of knowledge transfer. Moreover, the effects of partner protectiveness and LC on the learning outcome are moderated by the firm's own culture towards learning, the size of the firm, the structural form of the alliance, and the fact that partners may or may not be competitors. Journal of International Business Studies (2004) 35, 407–427. doi:10.1057/palgrave.jibs.8400091
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