Reciprocity of Knowledge Flows in Internal Network Forms of Organizing

42 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2005

See all articles by Raymond van Wijk

Raymond van Wijk

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM); Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

Frans A. J. Van Den Bosch

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship; Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

H. W. Volberda

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM); Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

Sander M. Heinhuis

Independent

Date Written: October 2005 5,

Abstract

Fundamental changes in the competitive landscape triggered many firms to leverage and build competencies by focusing on transition processes towards internal network forms of organizing. These forms ameliorate exploration through knowledge creation and transfer.Internal networks are characterized by horizontal knowledge flows that supplement andsupplant the vertical knowledge flows that characterize other organization forms like thefunctional and multi-divisional forms. As these horizontal knowledge flows facilitateknowledge integration, internal networks have an advantage over other organization forms inleveraging and building competencies. One characteristic that makes these horizontalknowledge flows work is the reciprocity ensuing them. Reciprocity relates to theinterdependence and coordination modes that characterize internal networks. As reciprocity isinfluenced by managerial coordination, by the intention to deploy knowledge, and by goalattainment, creating and maintaining reciprocity of knowledge flows can be considered as a managerial competence.In this paper, the attributes of organization form that impact the reciprocity in a firm are explored from structural, managerial and knowledge perspectives. Hypotheses are developed which suggest that specialization and the use of formal meetings restrictreciprocity, whereas job rotation, the number of employees with a coordination function, andteams have a positive effect on the level of reciprocity. These hypotheses are tested by meansof a questionnaire administered in a business unit of a multinational financial services firm.Reciprocity of knowledge flows was found to be dependent on the characteristics mentioned above in a predicted way. Since none of the hypotheses needed to be rejected, the evidence suggests that reciprocity is a fundamental feature of internal networks and the horizontal knowledge flows that characterize them. This suggests reciprocity to be an important managerial competence.

Keywords: competence leveraging and building, internal networks, organizational attributes, reciprocity of knowledge flows, knowledge integration

JEL Classification: M, L20, D21, L15

Suggested Citation

van Wijk, Raymond and Van Den Bosch, Frans A. J. and Volberda, Henk W. and Heinhuis, Sander M., Reciprocity of Knowledge Flows in Internal Network Forms of Organizing (October 2005 5,). ERIM Report Series Reference No. ERS-2005-024-STR. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=797949

Raymond Van Wijk (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Frans A. J. Van Den Bosch

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship ( email )

RSM Erasmus University
Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands
+31 10 408 1955/2005 (Phone)
+31 10 453 0137 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rsm.nl/fvandenbosch

Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Henk W. Volberda

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands
+31 10 408 2761 (Phone)
+31 10 408 9013 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.eur.nl/fbk/dep/dep4/faculty_members/Henk_Volberda

Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM)

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Sander M. Heinhuis

Independent

No Address Available

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