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Effective transfer of tacit knowledge across borders - A case study of DHV in the Netherlands and India

Wesselink, Willemijn (2011) Effective transfer of tacit knowledge across borders - A case study of DHV in the Netherlands and India.

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Abstract:The increasing internationalization causes an increasing need for organizations to effective transfer knowledge across borders in order to achieve competitive advantage. DHV-Group plans to expand their Rail & Stations Business Unit to India. Therefore, they need to gain insight in how to transfer knowledge between the Netherlands and India in an effective way with the aim of economic benefit. This research focuses on the transfer of tacit knowledge, because this is often more difficult to transfer than explicit knowledge. The literature states that four factors are of influence on the effectiveness of knowledge transfer across borders: motivation of the sender and receiver, communication tools which are used, the use of expatriates, and the differences between organization cultures. A mixed-method approach has been used to research if these factors are also influencing the transfer of tacit knowledge between the Netherlands and India at DHV-Group. A questionnaire was used to collect quantitative data. Forty employees completed the questionnaire, of whom 31 Dutch and nine Indian employees. The results were analyzed with the use of a correlation- and regression analysis. Furthermore, two projects were observed to collect qualitative data: DMIC and KEIP. Eight project members were interviewed about their vision on the knowledge transfer between the Dutch and Indian project members. The results show that the factors found in the literature review are all of influence on the knowledge transfer. Motivation and differences between organizational cultures were mentioned as most influencing factors. A striking result is that external regulation of the sender negatively influences his intrinsic motivation. This correlation needs further research. To transfer tacit knowledge, face-to-face contact is necessary. The use of ICT is mainly effective to transfer explicit knowledge, however it could support the transfer of tacit knowledge. The results also show that DHV-Group does not use the experiences and competence of expatriates optimally. There is no training program how to transfer knowledge and there is little contact with expatriates. Finally, next to power distance and level of individualism, the difference of long-term orientation seems to be of influence. However, this correlation needs further research. Next to these four factors, two other factors which influence the effectiveness of cross border knowledge transfer were found in this research. The initial phase of a project seems to be of great influence. This phase is determined by the project leader and therefore the project leader is of great importance. He needs to involve all project members and he needs to create an open atmosphere to share knowledge. HR is also of great influence on the effectiveness of knowledge transfer by selecting the right people and implementing the HR strategy. So, DHV-Group is recommended to be clear about their corporate strategy and add transfer of tacit knowledge between the Netherlands and India to their corporate policies; it should invest in an international business plan; it should develop an expatriate program and implement an incentive policy for the transfer of tacit knowledge across borders; HR should focus on the retention of knowledge; an investment in communication tools which facilitate face-to-face contact is needed; the initial phase of a project should focus on teambuilding; and finally, the project leader should adopt a management style which supports knowledge transfer.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
DHV-Rail & Stations
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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