The impact of organisational values on the transfer of technical and non-technical knowledge in strategic alliances: a comparative study
By Sukoluhle Thando Nkala
Organisations are faced with the reality of having to compete on the global market. It has therefore become critical now more than ever, for managers of these organisations to adopt strategies that will ensure competitive advantage and sustainability into the future. Knowledge has been identified as a strategic asset that can be leveraged to gain this competitive advantage. Unfortunately, the nature of organisations prevents them from having the ability to hire new individuals each time a knowledge gap is identified. Strategic alliances have identified as platforms where knowledge possessed by an alliance partner can be accessed by the other party through the process of knowledge transfer. In order for this process to be effective, both the teaching and the learning partner have to have certain organisational values that promote the transfer of knowledge. This study investigated the organisational values that promoted knowledge transfer in strategic alliances within the context of the construction industry. An additional dimension of knowledge context, i.e. whether knowledge is technical or non-technical, was also investigated to assess if it had a bearing on the organisational values required for knowledge transfer. The study also sought to establish how tensions caused by conflicting values were managed in the context of strategic alliances. The research took the form of an exploratory qualitative study where twelve managers of EPCM/construction companies were interviewed. The insights drawn from the respondents then formed the basis of the research findings. The research identified willingness to learn, willingness to teach, relationship, trust and quality focus as the top five most cited organisational values that are perceived to promote knowledge transfer in strategic alliances. The conflicting organisational values of adaptability and predictability were found to promote technical and non-technical contexts, respectively, and a model was developed on how to effectively manage tensions between alliance partners. Recommendations were then made to managers and academics.