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.

Types of Stickiness

Types of stickiness

Introduction: A Process Approach to Knowledge Transfer

Further insight into stickiness can be gained by opening the ‘black box’ of a transfer and analysing the details of the process. Such a process approach to the study of a transfer is often distinguished from a results, event or variance approach (Mohr, 1982). The latter focuses on describing and explaining results. Process research focuses on actual sequences of events, stressing the decision process involved and the nature of implementation problems.

A rather common way to analyse the process of transfer consists of specifying a set of phases and demarcating milestones (Van de Ven, 1992). Current understanding of transfer processes provides grounds to specify four distinct stages of a transfer. A distinction is usually drawn ...

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