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Title: Overcoming contextual barriers in knowledge transfer: Making the 'invisible' salient
Authors: Nebus, J.
Hin, C.K. 
Keywords: Awareness
Tacit knowledge
Issue Date: 2007
Citation: Nebus, J.,Hin, C.K. (2007). Overcoming contextual barriers in knowledge transfer: Making the 'invisible' salient. Academy of Management 2007 Annual Meeting: Doing Well by Doing Good, AOM 2007 : -. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Our understanding of context and contextual knowledge is a gap in the organizational knowledge literature which has not received the attention it merits. Contextual knowledge is most prevalent in practice as all knowledge has a corresponding context which reflects why it was created, and implies how it is to be interpreted. The contextual knowledge "trap" occurs because individuals ignore, or are oblivious to, the context in which transferred knowledge is embedded. The consequence is that transferred knowledge which is valid and useful at the source's context may be invalid, or even worse - dysfunctional - when applied in the receiver's context. The paper makes two contributions. Primarily, it develops a theory which answers the research question: why is context often transparent to knowledge producers and consumers? We first view knowledge with an awareness and codifiability perspective to understand the issues. Second, we explain that context 'invisibility' stems from one's lack of awareness, a function of both the context's saliency and an individual's attention. Third, we posit that context saliency is negatively affected by dispersedness and availability, and positively affected by novelty. Unfortunately, novelty is diminished by those immersed in context. However, the knowledge recipient can make the context differences more salient. Together the knowledge source and recipient are can create contextual knowledge enabling them to identify context relevant to the knowledge transferred. The paper's second contribution is distinguishing between tacit and contextual knowledge. The lack of literature on contextual knowledge is partially explained by the literature's simplistic tacit / explicit dichotomy which confounds tacit and contextual knowledge.
Source Title: Academy of Management 2007 Annual Meeting: Doing Well by Doing Good, AOM 2007
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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