The complexity of knowledge exchange does not limit or lower its necessity for organizations and economies. Since its aim is to capture, create, organize and distribute knowledge, knowledge exchange ensures the transfer of knowledge to different parts of the organization thus enhancing learning and development in the organization while ensuring the posterity of the knowledge (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998). The effectiveness of knowledge exchange requires encouragement more than the incentives offered. Challenges and barriers though evident do not hinder the criticality of knowledge transfer. This research focuses on encouraging knowledge exchange while addressing the barriers.
Encouraging knowledge transfer
According to Argote & Ingram (2000), knowledge transfer is the process through which the experiences of one unit such as a division, department, or group affect another in the organization. The effectiveness of knowledge transfer is evident by the performance or knowledge changes of the recipients. They are of the view that it requires more than just technology transfer. In their opinion, encouragement of the same would encompass considerations of ethics in power imbalances and relativity in need of resources of knowledge. To encourage knowledge transfer, Blackler (1995) provides the necessity of addressing the knowledge types grouped as; encoded whose conveyance is through symbols and signs, encultured which involves the use of negotiation and language in acculturation and socialization, engrained, and embedded. The field of knowledge exchange has developed with institutions being set up to help companies in creating a culture of knowledge exchange relevant to the field of specialization of the company.
Identification of the motivation factors of people in codifying and sharing of knowledge is the priority of organizations (Farquhar & Smith, 2000). Encouraging contribution of knowledge by employees is very important (Boisot & Griffiths, 1999). Researches on encouraging knowledge exchange are numerous. Faraj & Wasko (2000) set on identification of motivation factors for people in codifying knowledge to help others while Molms (2001) emphasizes on the need for interactions and opportunities for knowledge exchange. Hall (2001) advocates for social exchange through the use of incentives such as organisational factors and rewards which are straight forward as well as variation in activities and job roles. He emphasizes on the management of social sharing conditions through the ease of access to resources and encouraging value of information. Short term results are based on financial incentives while building of the community proves significant in the long term (Beer & Nohria 2000). The ways of knowledge exchange include; mentorship, work shadowing, paired of work, narrative transfer, guided experimentation and community practice (Roberts, 2000).
Barriers to effective exchange of knowledge
Risk and uncertainty form a great barrier to knowledge transfer due to the costs and changes that a company undergoes. The dismissal and failure to accord value to information given and lack of incentives are major barriers to knowledge exchange (Nahapiet & Ghoshal 1998). The lack of motivation for employees lowers the rate and efficiency of knowledge exchange (Faraj & Wasko 2000). The other barriers include; misconceptions, generational differences, cultural norms, internal conflicts, expertise, relations in union management, distance, limitations of technology among others (Roberts, 2000).
The benefits of knowledge exchange in a greater way outweigh the challenges experienced. There is need to continue encouraging knowledge exchange through more research and addressing measures to counter the inherent barriers and challenges.
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- Roberts, J 2000, ‘From Know-how to Show-how: Questioning the Role of Information and Communication Technologies in Knowledge Transfer’, Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 429–443.