Knowledge Transfer: Types, Approaches & Process

Knowledge transfer is often referred to as a situation when one’s experience is influenced by the experience of other.

The knowledge transfer process can happen at various levels, for example among organizations, among units/groups within organizations, or among members within an organization. In organizational context, knowledge transfer is the challenge of transferring knowledge from one part of the organization to another. Knowledge transfer attempts to organize, create, capture or spread knowledge and ensure its availability for future users. Knowledge transfer is the planned movement of the correct skills and knowledge at the correct time to keep employees productive, innovative, and competitive. Knowledge transfer process usually is similar to a communication process occurred between two units, no matter at the individual or at the organizational level.

Watch a video on methods and tools for knowledge transfer in a multigenerational workforce

Different Types of Knowledge

Knowledge can be described from a variety of viewpoints but we will discuss the following three only.

Explicit knowledge: This kind of knowledge is formalized and codified, and is also quite often categorized as know-what knowledge. It can be articulated in formal language and records and transmitted to individuals; Explicit knowledge is easy to articulate, communicate and store.

Tacit knowledge: It is personal knowledge embedded in individuals depending on their experience and involves intangible elements like personal belief, perspective and values. Frequently it is termed as know-how knowledge and means intuitive, tough to define knowledge which is mainly based on experience. Tacit knowledge is hard to articulate, communicate and store, it is non-codified content. Tacit knowledge is furthermore considered as being the most precious source of knowledge, and it most probably leads to innovations in the company.

Embedded Knowledge: It is tacit knowledge and exists within systematic routines. It pertains to the associations between roles, technologies, formal procedures and emergent routines in a complex system. The difficulties in managing embedded knowledge differ significantly. Because of the issues in effectively managing embedded knowledge, companies which succeed may have a significant competitive advantage.

Knowledge Transfer Approaches

Replication Approach: This particular approach consists of codification of the knowledge and a direct replication of what is being codified. Each and every bit of knowledge is codified and copied in detail for the objective of a large scale application of the knowledge. The greatest benefit of this approach is that it requires low transfer costs. Despite the fact that codification demands time and energy, but once the knowledge is codified, it could be easily shared and retrieved. This approach enables a wide scope and quick dissimilation of knowledge. It boosts motivation of both the knowledge holder and the knowledge receiver to take part in knowledge transfer because of a positive hope on the difference between knowledge transfer costs and knowledge transfer outcome.

Lecturing Approach: This approach stresses on a complete acquisition of the present knowledge by the knowledge receiver as an instruction being articulated by the knowledge holder. An advantage of this method includes the opportunity of person-to-person interactive sharing. This approach calls for a full exploitation of the existing knowledge that generates an additional advantage of economies of scale.

Coaching Approach: This approach brings together mentoring, shadowing and observation to evaluate learner competency gaps, and guide development with timely performance feedback. The coach provides guidance and enables the knowledge receivers to learn and produce results independently. It improves employee motivation to share knowledge, and also increases receivers’ readiness to absorb and use the transferred knowledge. This strategy allows a far more efficient transfer of non-codifiable, or usually categorized as tacit knowledge.

Exploring Approach: This approach consists of codification of knowledge, however the codified files would most likely serve as references and background information for the other individuals to discover how the knowledge should be utilized. The knowledge receiver will evaluate the present codified knowledge, make use of it as a place to begin or a reference, and continue to perform and learn in accordance with the codified materials. Codification / Publication can take the form of blog posts, scientific publications, books, software code, etc. This method is versatile for applying the knowledge since duplication of existing knowledge is discouraged. An additional advantage is the potential for knowledge creation in the knowledge transfer process.

Knowledge Transfer Process

  • Figure out the knowledge holders inside the company
  • Encourage them to share knowledge
  • Design a sharing system to aid the knowledge transfer
  • Carry out the transfer plan
  • Measure to guarantee the transfer
  • Apply the knowledge transferred

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