On and Off the Beaten Path: How Individuals Broker Knowledge Through Formal and Informal Networks

53 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2004

See all articles by Rick Aalbers

Rick Aalbers

University of Groningen - SOM Research School; Deloitte Consulting

W. Dolfsma

University of Groningen School of Economics and Business

O. Koppius

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University; Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

Date Written: 31 2004 8,

Abstract

Although informal networks are often emphasized as facilitating knowledge transfer, we use network data obtained from a multi-unit high-tech firm to show that the formal network also significantly contributes to inter-unit knowledge transfer. Individuals centrally placed in a network are, in addition, more involved in knowledge transfer, especially, the evidence suggests, in the case of the formal network. Focusing on the brokerage roles that individual fulfill, we find that knowledge transfer between units is more likely to occur through externally oriented brokers than internally oriented brokers in the formal network, but not in the informal network. Overall, the results show that there is more than one path to transfer knowledge.

Keywords: knowledge transfer, inter-unit knowledge transfer, communication networks, centrality, brokerage roles

JEL Classification: M, M10, O32, L2, D29

Suggested Citation

Aalbers, Rick and Dolfsma, Wilfred and Koppius, Otto, On and Off the Beaten Path: How Individuals Broker Knowledge Through Formal and Informal Networks (31 2004 8,). ERIM Report Series Reference No. ERS-2004-066-LIS/ORG. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=595004

Rick Aalbers

University of Groningen - SOM Research School ( email )

P.O. Box 800
9700 AV Groningen
Netherlands

Deloitte Consulting ( email )

General-Guisan-Quai 38
Z├╝rich, 8022
United States

Wilfred Dolfsma

University of Groningen School of Economics and Business ( email )

P.O. Box 800
9700 AH Groningen, Groningen 9700 AV
Netherlands

Otto Koppius (Contact Author)

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University ( email )

RSM Erasmus University
PO Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
+31 10 408 2032 (Phone)
+31 10 408 9010 (Fax)

Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

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