Barriers for Knowledge Transfer – Gabriel Szulanski research findings

If Only We Knew What We Know” is one of the best books on Knowledge Management that I have read. I am re-visiting that book because the concepts there fits nicely with what we are offering with Rawsugar.

One of the chapters talks about the research findings of Gabriel Szulanski (from Wharton) on what are the barriers to knowledge transfer. Here are four reasons:

1. Ignorance: Those who have the “knowledge” don’t realize that others may find it useful. At the same time, those who could benefit from that “knowledge” have not idea someone in the company has it.

2. No absorptive capacity: Even when employees were not ignorant of the knowledge or best practice, they lacked the money, time, and management resources to pursue and study it in enough detail to make it useful.

3. The lack of pre-existing relationships: People absorb knowledge and practice from other people they know, respect, and – often – like. If two managers have no personal bond, no tie or link which pre-establishes trust, they’re less likely to incorporate each other’s experiences into their own work.

4. Lack of motivation: People may not perceive a clear business reason for pursuing the transfer of knowledge and best practices.


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