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.

Summary and Conclusion

Summary and conclusion

The call for this study stemmed from an enduring puzzle. Dick Walton, from Harvard Business School, first called attention to it in the 1960s. In the 1990s, William Buehler, from Xerox, confirmed its presence when he declared his frustration to Fortune magazine: ‘You can see a high-performance factory or office, but it just doesn't spread. I don't know why.’ Indeed, the success of NUMMI, of Saturn at General Motors, of IBM's PC division are visible. Visible as well is the lack of internal diffusion of those practices. In concluding this book, it is perhaps the time to ask: what can we now say about the phenomenon?

The short answer is that we have new clues for how to rethink prevailing wisdom ...

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