The Symbiosis Mechanism for Effective Knowledge Transfer

S. M. Jasimuddin, Z. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (SciVal)


Knowledge transfer is widely emphasized as a strategic issue for sustainable competitive advantage of an organization. To date, it seems that the soft and hard mechanisms are being employed for knowledge transfer. Although there is considerable variation in the researchers’ views about the role of the two mechanisms of knowledge transfer of an organization, this paper suggests a symbiotic strategy that recognizes the interplay between the soft and hard mechanisms. It is argued that the symbiosis mechanism falls somewhere between the rather divergent mechanisms. Drawing from the analogy of knowledge as an iceberg, the perceived explicitness of knowledge is contended to be the essential determinant for the proposed symbiosis mechanism. The paper then proceeds to analyse the tradeoffs of implementing the symbiosis mechanism. It is found that when an organization has similar unit costs of transferring explicit and tacit knowledge, it can ideally minimize its total knowledge transfer cost, aligning individual's effort with the organization's. The proposed symbiosis approach to knowledge transfer will provide powerful arguments for a more holistic view which is crucial for the effective knowledge transfer. However, it is to be noted that the model is a conceptual one, not an operational one in which the mathematics only explain a structure but do not guide the practitioner to find optimal solutions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-716
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Operational Research Society
Issue number5
Early online date14 May 2008
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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