Technology Usage and Organizational Performance in Multi-Unit Firmstransferring Knowledge by Transferring Individuals: Innovative Technology Usage and Organizational Performance in Multi-Unit Firms

42 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021 Last revised: 27 May 2021

See all articles by Christian Stadler

Christian Stadler

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School

Constance E. Helfat

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Gianmario Verona

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology; SDA Bocconi

Date Written: February 5, 2021

Abstract

Transferring individuals who possess relevant knowledge from one organizational unit to another – a form of resource redeployment – may help to overcome impediments to knowledge transfer. Despite the promise of this mechanism, which often occurs through intra-firm geographic mobility, relatively little research has examined how the knowledge and expertise of individuals interacts with the organizational resources of the units to which individuals move. This study examines whether intra-firm geographic mobility improves organizational performance by providing a conduit for the transfer of knowledge, while accounting for the interaction between individual knowledge and factors at the organization-unit level of analysis. We analyze the performance effects of the transfer of engineers who have expertise in innovative process technologies. The results from a large multinational company show that the innovative process technology-related expertise of an individual engineer who moves to a new organizational unit is positively associated with the performance of that unit, suggesting that intra-firm geographic mobility improves organizational performance by providing a conduit for the transfer of knowledge. The results also show that the technology-related knowledge of engineers is a substitute for organization-level factors when a unit uses only technologies with which it is already familiar, whereas the technology-related knowledge of engineers is a complement to organization-level factors when units introduce new technologies. Thus, individuals who bring novel expertise to their organizational units through intra-firm mobility may be important vehicles for organizational learning and building new competences, helping to diffuse best practice.

Keywords: knowledge transfer, resource redeployment, strategic human capital, microfoundations, organizational learning, process technology, employee mobility, multinational firms

JEL Classification: D22, D23, D83, M1

Suggested Citation

Stadler, Christian and Helfat, Constance E. and Verona, Gianmario, Technology Usage and Organizational Performance in Multi-Unit Firmstransferring Knowledge by Transferring Individuals: Innovative Technology Usage and Organizational Performance in Multi-Unit Firms (February 5, 2021). Organization Science, Tuck School of Business Working Paper No. 3779743, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3779743

Christian Stadler (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.wbs.ac.uk/about/person/christian-stadler/

Constance E. Helfat

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Gianmario Verona

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

SDA Bocconi ( email )

Via Bocconi 8
Milan, Milan 20136
Italy

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