Challenges of Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge transfer is a vital part of any organization’s ability to develop, grow, adapt, and course correct when needed. Unfortunately, knowledge transfer tends to be an area where a haphazard approach is taken, if any approach is taken at all.

Knowledge transfer includes any action, under which there is disclosure to others what an individual knows (Winkler, 2014). Successful knowledge transfer occurs when there is an eventual accumulation and assimilation of new knowledge from one party to another (Winkler, 2014). From an organizational standpoint, knowledge transfer is what allows forward progress by allowing others to learn from a compounding of information and lessons learned in hopes of not repeating the same things again. The process of knowledge transfer tends to be thought of in the context of relocation of a particular body of knowledge, but it also includes the modification of the transferred knowledge for the purpose of adapting it to be used in another context (Kumar, Ganesh 2009).

A likely reason organizations don’t take the time to be intentional with developing a strategic approach to knowledge transfer is because it is perceived to be a very complex and contextually multifactorially conditioned process (Liyanage, Elhag, Ballal, Li 2009, p. 123). Many organizations shy away from knowledge transfer because of the challenges that lie within developing a network of social relationships, and building a level of trust within social relations that link people (Butler et al., 2006). Organizations recognize the process of knowledge transfer fails when parties participating are not willing to share knowledge (Liyanage et al., 2009).

An effective model of transfer process is a cyle of awareness, acquisition, transformation, association, application, and knowledge externalization (Winkler, 2014). When used as a training model, knowledge transfer becomes an avenue for developing employee competencies and qualifications (Winkler, 2014).


Butler, A., Le Grice, P., & Reed, M. (2006). Delimiting knowledge transfer from trainingnull. Education + Training, 48(8/9), 627–641.
Kumar, J. A., & Ganesh, L. S. (2009). Research on knowledge transfer in organizations: a morphologynull. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(4), 161–174.
Liyanage, C., Elhag, T., Ballal, T., & Li, Q. (2009). Knowledge communication and translation – a knowledge transfer modelnull. Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(3), 118–131.
Winkler, R. (2014). Training and knowledge transfer at the interface of cultures. Management (1429-9321), 18(1), 227–240.

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