Knowledge Management Processes and International Joint Ventures

Andrew C. Inkpen, Adva Dinur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

659 Scopus citations


The management and processing of organizational knowledge are increasingly being viewed as critical to organizational success. By exploring how firms access and exploit alliance-based knowledge, the authors provide evidence to support the argument that the firm is a dynamic system of processes involving different types of knowledge. Using data from a longitudinal study of North American-based joint ventures (JVs) between North American and Japanese firms, they address three related research questions: (1) what processes do JV partners use to gain access to alliance knowledge; (2) what types of knowledge are associated with the different processes and how should that knowledge be classified; and (3) what is the relationship between organizational levels, knowledge types, and the transfer of knowledge? Although many generalizations have been drawn about the merits of knowledge-based resources and the creation of knowledge, few efforts have been made to establish systematically how firms acquire and manage new knowledge. Moreover, prior alliance research has not addressed in detail the nature of alliance knowledge and how knowledge is managed in the alliance context. The authors examine the processes used by alliance partners to transfer knowledge from an alliance context to a partner context. They identify four key processes - technology sharing, alliance-parent interaction, personnel transfers, and strategic integration - that share a conceptual underpinning and represent a knowledge connection between parent and alliance. Each of the four processes is shown to provide an avenue for managers to gain exposure to knowledge and ideas outside their traditional organizational boundaries and to create a connection for individual managers to communicate their alliance experiences to others. Although all of the knowledge management processes are potentially effective, the different processes involve different types of knowledge and different organizational levels. The primary types of knowledge associated with each process are identified and then linked with the organizational level affected by the transfer process. From those linkages, several propositions about organizational knowledge transfer and management are developed. The results suggest that although a variety of knowledge management strategies can be viable, some strategies lead to more effective knowledge transfer than others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-468
Number of pages15
JournalOrganization Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998


  • Joint Ventures and Alliances, Tacit Knowledge
  • Knowledge Management Processes
  • Organizational Knowledge, Learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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