The Implementation of International Business Knowledge Transfer in China

Posted: 11 Dec 2018 Last revised: 18 Jan 2019

See all articles by Derrick Parker

Derrick Parker

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: April 22, 2018


The increase in globalisation of business presents the opportunity for multinational companies (MNCs) to expand into new emerging markets. Research has attributed difficulties in doing so largely to problems and difficulties in the process of knowledge transfer, and has recently pinpointed the essential role of implementing knowledge from other parts of the world, and the learning required to do so. An ethos of knowledge transfer, implementation and learning are needed for international business success.

Chinese multinational companies experience numerous challenges at internationalising, and are culturally ill-disposed to such an ethos. This study will employ longitudinal ethnographic research to identify if and how they reconcile this conundrum, to advance understanding concerning the link between knowledge and learning and international business development.

The knowledge source, the knowledge transfer process, and the knowledge recipient have been categorised as the three principle elements of a knowledge-management system (Wiig, 1995). As knowledge retention and distribution have always been the concern of organisations and their managers, sophisticated techniques and systems have been designed for managing the knowledge source and knowledge transfer (Davenport and Prusak, 1998; Wiig, 1995). One of the main streams of research in international business is concerned with knowledge-management within multinational corporations, especially knowledge transfer between parent firm and subsidiaries. For these firms, and for research on them, cross-border knowledge transfer and implementation have become hot topics.

For most multinational companies, transferring knowledge is important for self-improvement and development, both in home and in host markets. Knowledge transfer is a circular process; MNCs gather knowledge from business partners, and then apply it back to doing business with these or other business partners. In this process, knowledge application (which can be called as ‘implementation’) plays an essential role; it determines the effectiveness of knowledge transfer, without which, MNCs cannot develop and possibly cannot survive in foreign markets. Thus, the implementation of transferred knowledge should be a focus of attention; especially for companies dealing with multinational markets.

Many firms in the People’s Republic of China have, in recent years, grown so rapidly that they are now beginning to become MNCs. However, their complex culture background, their different political environment and their firms’ comparatively undeveloped management skills and technologies bring huge challenges for their internationalisation. These aspects also represent obstacles for foreign companies who are trying to do business with Chinese MNCs.

These concerns lead to a comprehensive investigation of the factors, and the management techniques that influence the implementation of international business knowledge transfer within the Chinese-Western context.

Keywords: China, Globalization, Knowledge Transfer, Multinational, Implementation

JEL Classification: M1, M12, M13, M14, M16

Suggested Citation

Parker, Derrick, The Implementation of International Business Knowledge Transfer in China (April 22, 2018). Available at SSRN:

Derrick Parker (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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