9 Knowledge Transfer and Organizational Learning

Linda Argote


Not only do individuals learn from their experience, organizations also learn from their experience. Just as individuals learn vicariously from the experience of others, organizations also learn vicariously from the experience of other organizations. This form of learning indirectly from the experience of others is referred to as knowledge transfer. And just as individuals have memories, organizations also have memories that retain the knowledge acquired through learning. Further, organizations vary in their rates of learning and knowledge transfer and in the extent to which they retain the knowledge they acquire. This chapter presents evidence that characteristics of the organizational context affect organizational learning and knowledge retention and transfer. Factors explaining the variation in organizational learning and knowledge retention and transfer are identified and future research opportunities are described. Because organizational learning, memory, and transfer affect organizational performance, a greater understanding of these factors has the potential to advance both theory and practice.

Although individual learning has received research attention for well over a century, research on organizational learning is a more recent phenomenon. Research on how organizations learn from their experience, retain the knowledge that they acquire and transfer it throughout their establishments are ...

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