Why don't best practices spread within firms? What exactly is sticky knowledge? Having recognized that knowledge assets are rapidly becoming their most precious source of competitive advantage, a large number of organizations are now attempting to transfer best practices. Yet best practices still remain stubbornly immobile. Sticky Knowledge reveals that the transfer of practices is a complex phenomenon, and demonstrates the range of barriers to transferring best practices within the firm. Written in a brief and accessible format, Gabriel Szulanski defines the popular concept of stickiness and its operationalization, providing a roadmap for understanding and further researching this topical issue. Taking a fresh look at accepted wisdom, and presenting research findings that conflict with some established views, the book will be essential reading for academics and students addressing issues related to knowledge and the firm. Practising managers and MBA students will also find it of immense value.

Stickiness and Firm Performance

Stickiness and firm performance

The performance of a firm reflects its ability to re-use superior knowledge before competitors are able to reproduce it effectively. A firm is supposedly at an advantage relative to imitators because it has better access to templates or working examples of its own practices.

Both external and internal factors can potentially affect the ability of a firm to extract value from superior knowledge. External factors that retard imitation prolong the period of time where competitive advantage is sustained and can include the use of patents, secrecy and defensive organizational mechanisms.1 Such barriers to imitation slow down the speed of imitation.

Even when there is no threat of imitation, however, hypothetical gains may never materialize because of the working of internal ...

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