انتقال دانش در جمع آوری: نگرانی از بهره برداری و آلودگی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|20386||2011||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||12377 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Scandinavian Journal of Management, Volume 27, Issue 3, September 2011, Pages 307–321
Knowledge transfer plays an important role in the creation of synergies in acquisitions. Acquisitions provide opportunities for learning and are often justified on the basis of the new knowledge made available or created by them. Nevertheless, we do not know enough about the factors that influence knowledge transfer in the context of acquisitions. This paper focuses on the motivation on part of individuals in the acquiring and target companies to share their knowledge and make use of the knowledge of their partner. More specifically, it is hypothesised that the fear of being exploited or contaminated by the other party will have a profound negative effect on the transfer of knowledge in acquisitions. These hypotheses are tested on a sample of acquisitions by Finnish companies in 2001–2004 and they are largely supported by the empirical analyses.
The performance of acquisitions is an important topic of study because their outcomes often fail to meet expectations (King, Dalton, Daily, & Covin, 2004). Although many factors affect the outcome of acquisitions, it has been argued that knowledge transfer plays a crucial role in contemporary acquisitions. This is because acquisitions provide access to new knowledge or create it (Vaara et al., 2003 and Vermeulen and Barkema, 2001). Furthermore, knowledge transfer is needed for the realization of synergies between the acquirer and the target (Capron, 1999, Capron and Pistre, 2002 and Haspeslagh and Jemison, 1991). However, knowledge transfer in this context is challenging; in particular, uncertainty and ambiguity (Bresman et al., 1999, Ranft and Lord, 2002, Sarala, 2010 and Vaara, 2003) tend to impede knowledge transfer (e.g. Husted, Gammelgaard, & Michailova, 2005). While we know a great deal about knowledge transfer in alliances or multinational corporations (MNCs) more generally, less is known about knowledge transfer in acquisitions. Furthermore, most studies on knowledge transfer in this context are based on case studies that cannot be generalized to larger populations (e.g. Ejenäs and Werr, 2005, Empson, 2001 and Westphal and Shaw, 2005). Hence, there is a need to systematically examine the factors that facilitate and impede knowledge transfer in acquisitions. In particular, we suggest that the motivation of individuals to engage in post-acquisition knowledge transfer warrants special attention. Work motivation has been defined as “a set of energetic forces that originate both within as well as beyond an individual's being, to initiate work-related behaviour and to determine its form, direction, intensity, and duration” (Pinder, 1998, p. 11). In line with this definition, motivation on part of individuals to engage in knowledge transfer can be understood as the effort that they are willing to expend on sharing their knowledge with others as well as absorbing new knowledge from others (Minbaeva, 2007). This paper draws on Empson's (2001) work from her case study of post-merger knowledge transfer between three service firms. This paper aims to extend her study to examine to what extent motivational factors – in relation to other variables – influence knowledge transfer in acquisitions. More specifically, it is hypothesised that the fear of being exploited or contaminated by the other party will be negatively related to knowledge transfer in acquisitions, because individuals will be less motivated to participate in knowledge transfer (Empson, 2001). These hypotheses were tested on a sample of 92 acquisitions made by Finnish companies in 2001–2004, both domestic and international. This paper contributes to existing research on acquisitions by examining barriers to knowledge transfer, emphasising the role of individuals who share, receive and use the knowledge, and on factors that (de)motivate them to do so. This study adds to previous research on knowledge transfer in acquisitions (e.g. Bresman et al., 1999, Ejenäs and Werr, 2005, Empson, 2001, Husted et al., 2005 and Westphal and Shaw, 2005) by elucidating how fear of exploitation and contamination on the part of individuals relates to knowledge transfer.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper set out to explore the role of individuals’ fears of exploitation and contamination as barriers to knowledge transfer in acquisitions. From a resource-based perspective, knowledge transfer plays a vital part in realizing synergies after the acquisition has taken place (Barney, 1991 and Haspeslagh and Jemison, 1991). However, we do not know enough about factors that influence knowledge transfer – in terms of its amount and direction – between the acquirer and the target (for a notable exception see Bresman et al., 1999). While the literature review showed that a number of factors can influence knowledge transfer, previous studies have been criticized for not analyzing the effect of these factors simultaneously in order to determine their relative importance (Hansen and Løvås, 2004 and Minbaeva, 2007). Furthermore, these factors may play different roles, depending on the direction of knowledge transfer – from the acquirer to target or vice versa (Bresman et al., 1999). This paper thus included control variables that have been found to influence knowledge transfer in previous studies, namely the type of knowledge, perceived organizational cultural differences, communication, and operational integration effort. In addition, this paper distinguished between the direction of knowledge transfer – from the acquirer to the target and vice versa – and explored differences in the relative influence of the determinants on knowledge transfer in each direction. The main contribution of this study is that it examines barriers to knowledge transfer in acquisitions with a focus on individuals who share, receive and use the knowledge, and on the factors that (de)motivate them to do so. By examining two aspects that relate to knowledge transfer, namely fear of exploitation and contamination on the part of individuals, this study adds to previous research on both knowledge transfer and on problems faced in the post-acquisition integration period (e.g. Bresman et al., 1999, Ejenäs and Werr, 2005, Empson, 2001, Husted et al., 2005 and Westphal and Shaw, 2005). More specifically, four hypotheses were developed to address the willingness of individuals to engage in knowledge transfer. The hypotheses were tested with data from 92 Finnish acquisitions. The results of the statistical analyses indicate that the fear of exploitation on the part of knowledge senders and the fear of contamination on the part of knowledge receivers are significant barriers to knowledge transfer in acquisitions. These results are presented in greater detail below. The first analysis in ‘Results’ section (see Table 2) focused on knowledge transfer from the target to the acquirer. After controlling for the factors mentioned above, the results showed that the target's fear of exploitation and the acquirer's fear of contamination, operational integration effort, and the degree to which the target's knowledge was explicit were all positively and significantly – and almost equally strongly – related to knowledge transfer from the acquirer to the target. While the characteristics of both the sender and the receiver have seldom been included in the same model in statistical analyses (for exceptions see Hansen and Løvås, 2004 and Minbaeva, 2007), the results of this study are in line with studies that point to the importance of the motivation of individuals for knowledge transfer (e.g. Ejenäs and Werr, 2005, Empson, 2001, Husted and Michailova, 2002, Minbaeva, 2007 and Minbaeva et al., 2003). These findings indicate that in order to achieve higher levels of knowledge transfer, both the sender and recipient need to be motivated to share and absorb knowledge. The post-acquisition integration period can involve a fair amount of upheaval, ambiguity and uncertainty for individuals in both the acquired and acquiring firm (e.g. Bresman et al., 1999, Ranft and Lord, 2002 and Vaara et al., 2003). In the aftermath of an acquisition it is thus likely that many individuals experience fear that their knowledge will be ‘exploited’ by the other party, as their energies shift from day-to-day tasks to concerns about potential loss of their jobs or status as a result of post-acquisition consolidation and organizational changes ( Ejenäs and Werr, 2005 and Husted et al., 2005). Compared with a more stable situation, it is likely that individuals are also more concerned about being ‘contaminated’ by the other party's knowledge in the more unstable post-acquisition integration context ( Empson, 2001). In such a situation self-categorization theory predicts that members of one group will become more cohesive and identify more strongly with their own ‘in-group’ unit, portraying the other ‘out-group’ unit as an enemy or a potential threat ( Hogg & Terry, 2000). The creation of an ‘us versus them’ attitude between the acquirer and the acquired company is not uncommon (e.g. Blake and Mouton, 1985 and Buono and Bowditch, 1989), and it may breed mistrust between the parties from the outset. These types of negative attitudes towards the partner may increase fears on the part of recipients that their operations, status or reputation will be harmed by accepting their partner's knowledge. While fears of exploitation and contamination on the part of individuals were identified as the main barriers to knowledge transfer from the target to the acquirer, other factors also exerted a strong influence. In line with many previous studies that point to the importance of knowledge characteristics ( Kogut and Zander, 1993, Ranft and Lord, 2002, Simonin, 1999a, Simonin, 1999b and Szulanski, 1996), the more explicit the target's knowledge, the more of it was transferred to the acquirer. Integration effort was also positively related to knowledge transfer from the target to the acquirer, providing support for previous studies (e.g. Björkman et al., 2004 and Sarala and Vaara, 2010). In order to facilitate the transfer of explicit knowledge managers therefore need to put effort into integrating the formal knowledge management systems of the acquirer and target, e.g. databases, intranet, and repositories ( Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). The transfer of tacit knowledge, which is socially embedded and difficult to articulate, requires more personal interaction between the members of the acquirer and the target to create a shared understanding and group identity between them (e.g. Bresman et al., 1999). The distinction between ‘explicit’ and ‘tacit’ knowledge can, however, be seen as rather simplistic, because knowledge that is worth sharing may consist of a combination of both types ( Morris, 2001). Thus social integration is most likely important even in cases where the aim is to transfer knowledge that is mainly explicit. The second analysis in ‘Results’ section (see Table 3) focused on knowledge transfer from the acquirer to the target. Knowledge transfer in this direction was found to be somewhat different from knowledge transfer from the target to the acquirer. The acquirer's fear of exploitation and the target's fear of contamination, operational integration effort, and the degree to which the acquirer's knowledge was explicit were all positively and significantly related to knowledge transfer from the acquirer to the target. However, the strongest relationship in this model was between knowledge transfer and a combination of the acquirer's fear of exploitation and the target's fear of contamination. These findings suggest that knowledge transfer from the acquirer to the target is affected by both ‘technical’ and ‘emotional’ aspects. Thus knowledge transfer in this direction can be facilitated by both formal operational integration ( Ejenäs and Werr, 2005 and Sarala and Vaara, 2010) as well as less formal social integration ( Björkman et al., 2004 and Bresman et al., 1999). In addition, due diligence that focuses on social and cultural aspects in addition to operational and financial factors, as suggested by Harding and Rouse (2007), can also give clues about the level of the target's fear of contamination, which may have its roots in change resistance and in a desire to maintain the status quo ( Husted et al., 2005). The findings in this study concerning the effect of perceived organizational cultural differences on post-acquisition knowledge transfer differed depending on the direction of knowledge transfer. Perceived organizational cultural differences were positively related to knowledge transfer from the acquirer to the target. This lends support to the view that cultural differences can provide more opportunities for the acquisition partners to learn from each other ( Björkman et al., 2007). Although not significant, perceived organizational cultural differences were negatively related to knowledge transfer from the target to the acquirer, which suggests that they can also be a barrier to learning (e.g. Lam, 1997). Interestingly, international acquisitions were negatively associated with knowledge transfer from the acquirer. They were not, however, related to knowledge transfer from the target. The findings in Table 1 suggest that perceived organizational cultural differences do not correlate with geographic distance. Rather, perceived organizational cultural differences – as measured in this study – seem to represent a dimension that is independent from geographic distance. These results are similar to previous studies that have found that national and organizational cultural represented different dimensions ( Sarala, 2010 and Weber et al., 1996). In light of these mixed findings, future studies could examine more carefully how organizational, national and institutional differences influence the amount and direction of knowledge transfer in acquisitions. Another salient and unexpected finding of this study was the strong inter-correlation between the fears of exploitation and contamination on part of employees in the target company and those in the acquirer. This finding can be interpreted in two ways. One possible explanation is that respondents’ answers were biased. For example, respondents from the acquiring firm's side could have had difficulties in gauging whether the attitudes to knowledge transfer of the employees in the target company differed from their own. Respondents may also have erroneously ascribed their own attitudes or emotions to the individuals in the partner firm, which is commonly referred to as ‘projection bias’ or ‘the false consensus effect’ (Ross, Greene, & House, 1976). However, this ‘projection bias’ has also been called into question. For example, Dawes and Mulford (1996) argue that the empirical support for this effect is not adequate. Furthermore, their study shows a positive correlation between the degree to which respondents believe that others are similar to themselves and their accuracy in predicting the responses of others. Thus another plausible explanation for the finding is that the interdependence between the acquirer's and target's perceptions of problems encountered in the post-acquisitions integration process represents a “real” social phenomenon, not a bias, and that feelings such as fears of exploitation and contamination are inter-related and fuel each other (Schoorman, Mayer, & Davis, 2007). Several studies show that feelings such as fear and trust tend to evolve reciprocally in dyadic relationships (e.g. Das and Teng, 1998 and Serva et al., 2005). It is thus possible that the strong correlation between the acquirer's and target's fears is the result of a dynamic process, where both parties have adjusted their perceptions of each other over time. Furthermore, the fears of exploitation and contamination among members of both the acquiring and target firms are likely to be related to the unsettling nature of acquisitions in general, which can create significant ambiguity, uncertainty and fears for both parties (e.g. Bresman et al., 1999, Husted et al., 2005 and Ranft and Lord, 2002). Taken together, the results of this study show that it is challenging to try facilitate knowledge transfer in the post-acquisition context, as managers need to strike a balance between the technical integration of the acquirer's and target's knowledge management systems, e.g. databases and intranet (Ejenäs and Werr, 2005 and Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995) and integration of their human capital (Birkinshaw et al., 2000 and Empson, 2001). Managers can, however, try to mitigate the negative effects of ‘human integration’ problems such as fears of exploitation and contamination in a variety of ways. One approach is to conduct a due diligence before the acquisition that focuses on social and cultural aspects, to find out whether individuals perceive the acquisition as something positive or negative (Harding & Rouse, 2007). Based on analyzing how individuals in the acquiring and target firms are likely to respond to the acquisition, it will be easier in advance to formulate an appropriate communication strategy for all the stakeholders involved. In order to ease anxiety and fears of exploitation it is important that the acquirer communicates as early as possible what the acquisition will mean for the individuals involved, (Chaudhuri & Tabrizi, 1999). Social integration – especially through ‘cultural crossvergence’ where the acquirer and target aim to create a new common culture and identity – can facilitate knowledge transfer by shifting negative “us versus them” attitudes towards greater mutual understanding (Sarala & Vaara, 2010) and thereby reducing fears of contamination. More specifically, social integration – and consequently knowledge transfer – can be supported by frequent communication (Björkman et al., 2004 and Bresman et al., 1999) socio-cultural training (Vaara et al., 2003), as well as joint action and collaboration that involve members of the acquirer and target firms (Ejenäs and Werr, 2005 and Empson, 2001). Finally, individuals need to have appropriate incentives for sharing knowledge (Minbaeva et al., 2003, Gupta and Govindarajan, 2000 and Cabrera and Cabrera, 2002), e.g. being appraised for knowledge insights gained from joint projects (Ejenäs & Werr, 2005). This study only provided a snap-shot of the respondents’ views on knowledge transfer at a certain point in time. The evolution of the relationship between the acquisition partners, and their attitudes towards knowledge transfer, should be explored in future studies over a longer period of time. For example, the research of Bresman et al. (1999) shows that time has a significant influence on knowledge transfer. In their study the acquirer transferred mostly explicit knowledge in the form of patents to the target in the early stages of the post-acquisition integration process. As time passed, the knowledge flows tended to become more even and include more tacit knowledge in the form of technological know-how. Although they were not significant in the present study, correlations between ‘elapsed time’ and ‘knowledge transfer’ did point in a similar direction; there was a tendency for knowledge transfer from the acquirer to the target to decrease over time, whereas it increased from the target. One explanation could be that as firms become more socially integrated more knowledge is transferred between the units (Kogut & Zander, 1993), although in the case of acquisition it seems that social integration is more important for facilitating knowledge transfer from the target to the acquirer than in the opposite direction. Thus, future research is needed that addresses which factors influence knowledge transfer from the target to the acquirer and vice versa. There are also other areas worth exploring. First, this study did not address how the fear of exploitation and contamination evolve. Empson (2001) suggests that differences in the knowledge bases can reduce appreciation for the other party's knowledge, and hence increase fears of exploitation and contamination of both acquirer and target. Although the control variable called ‘perceived organizational cultural differences’ in this study seems to have influenced knowledge transfer, it did not have an impact on the fears of the merging companies. Other factors, such as prior cooperation between the companies and the creation of a shared identity between the merging firms, may alleviate fears. Future work is thus needed, both conceptual and empirical, to increase our understanding about the development of emotions such as fear and trust in long-term relationships such as acquisitions. To conclude, this study aimed at extending previous research by testing how the lack of motivation on the part of individuals affected knowledge transfer in acquisitions. It has pointed to the need to look beyond the organizational level when investigating knowledge transfer, and to address what motivates individuals to share and make use of knowledge. Although the findings from this study support prior research that has highlighted the importance of organizational mechanisms for transferring knowledge (such as facilitating communication, and codifying knowledge), it also shows that individuals’ values and perceptions in the acquiring and target companies play an equally significant role in making knowledge transfer successful. Whether resistance on the part of individuals to sharing knowledge is based on individuals’ economic reasoning or social identification, this research suggest that knowledge in itself may be less neutral or detached of value to the people involved than previous studies on the topic may have presumed.