Effect of Contextual Factors on Organizational Learning and Knowledge Transfer

As is shown in Figure 29.2, the context interacts with experience to create knowledge. That is, the context moderates the relationship between experience and knowledge creation and transfer. In the sections that follow, we discuss how characteristics of the context can facilitate or impede organizational learning and knowledge transfer in geographically distributed organizations. Thus, we identify contextual conditions that enable organizations to overcome the barriers posed by geographic dispersion. We organize our analyses according to whether the contextual dimension pertains to national, technical, or social factors.

National context

While globalization may in some situations lead to greater commonality across nations (Hirst and Thompson, 1996), national diversity persists on a wide number of dimensions. Some of these dimensions are immediately obvious to the casual observer: different languages, different physical resources, and different legal rules and policy regulations. Other dimensions of national context can be subtle. Nations have different institutions—the formal and informal rules of the game that constrain human interaction (North, 1990). As a consequence of these different institutions, nations also have different national organizations. These organizations can be of many forms including national firms, universities, government laboratories, or other organizations that are part of the ...

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