Linking knowledge absorption and transmission toward innovation in R & D organizations

Yukiko Murakami*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Researchers have revealed the importance of combining knowledge absorbed externally with internal knowledge in organizations to stimulate innovation. Given the recent advances in and the complexity of science and technology and the specialization of business processes, a person cannot single-handedly perform all key processes. Thus, successful innovation depends on whether knowledge absorbed from outside is shared with colleagues. Traditionally, organizational gatekeepers were thought to perform a two-step process consisting of external knowledge absorption (the first step) and internal transmission of this knowledge to colleagues (the second step). However, recent case studies and network analyses on Western firms have found that these two steps are divided, pursued by different individuals, and occasionally disconnected. In this study, I quantitatively examined the factors that promote each step and those that connect the two steps, using micro data from R & D professionals in three Japanese multinational corporations. My analysis revealed that the factors that promote external knowledge absorption and those that encourage its internal transmission differ by firm and knowledge type. My analysis also revealed the conditions under which these two steps are linked, in terms of job characteristics, incentives, and management practices. Absorbed knowledge from outside is likely to be transmitted internally at jobs requiring creativity and new ideas. However, jobs with tight deadlines do not allow time for knowledge transmission. R & D professionals' expectation that knowledge sharing will be conducive to innovation and efficient work is an incentive for internal knowledge transmission. Management methods such as direct evaluations of knowledge sharing with colleagues and evaluations of personal contributions to team performance were found to be effective. Individuals' abilities also affect internal knowledge transmission. The ability to transmit knowledge differs from the ability to absorb it, and people do not always have both abilities, which impedes the linkage of knowledge transfer. Trainings to acquire transmission skills might repair the disconnection caused by the lack of transmission skills.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 17th European Conference on Knowledge Management, ECKM 2016
    PublisherAcademic Conferences Limited
    Number of pages9
    ISBN (Electronic)9781911218029
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Gatekeepers
    • Knowledge transfer
    • Open innovation
    • R & D management

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Information Systems and Management
    • Management Science and Operations Research


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