Explicit and Tacit Practice Transfer Methods: evidence from two field experiments (12:15 -13:30) RuW 4.202
Despite extant strategic management theory linking an organization's performance to its ability to conduct intra-organization knowledge transfer, real world organizations still invest in unsuccessful practice transfer initiatives. One potential explanation for such difficulty is the scarce causal evidence on the potential (mis)fit between which practice is being transferred and the transfer methods being employed to conduct such transfer. This paper proposes a first step to address this problem by presenting causal evidence on the effectiveness of alternative technologically-enabled practice transfer methods. I partnered with a real-world organization to conduct two different field experiments aiming to transfer intra-organization practices to a pool of geographically-dispersed managers. In Experiment 1, I study the relative efficacy of using, or not, a credible knowledge source in a transfer initiative by comparing a text-message versus a video-message training program. In Experiment 2, I test the relative efficacy of a transfer method allowing for interaction between parties (live videoconference training session) versus a method without interaction (text-message training program). Experiment 1 shows that while credibility strengthens transfer for a subset of practices associated with such credibility, it may also weaken the transfer of other practices. Experiment 2 suggests that tacit transfer methods allow for knowledge transfer outside an initially codified scope while leading to adaptation. These findings expand the literature on organizational learning by providing causal evidence on how the success of a practice transfer initiative depends on the fit between the knowledge content underlying a practice and the transfer method employed.