Knowledge transfer as interaction between experts and novices supported by technology

Maximiliane Wilkesmann (Center for Continuing Education, Dortmund University of Technology, Dortmund, Germany)
Uwe Wilkesmann (Center for Continuing Education, Dortmund University of Technology, Dortmund, Germany)


ISSN: 0305-5728

Publication date: 17 May 2011



The aim of this paper is to link two sides of knowledge transfer (obtaining and providing knowledge), represented by the interplay between experts and novices, possibilities of technical support, and individual and organizational outcomes. An heuristic is developed to link up these different aspects and focus on practical application of some of them; the authors seek to answer the following research question: how can the organization support activities that would encourage knowledge transfer between novices and experts?


The authors used interviews, document collection, and observations on‐site to gain insights into knowledge management and e‐learning activities at Lufthansa, a German airline company, beginning in 2004, with the first qualitative investigation, in the form of telephone interviews. Over the following six years, the authors followed up with archival analysis and in 2010 conducted interviews with four experts who are responsible for knowledge management and e‐learning at the group level at Lufthansa. All interviews were recorded, transcribed and coded, then a qualitative content analysis was conducted. The interviews were complemented by several demonstrations of the system during a visit on‐site.


Every person can be simultaneously a novice and an expert in different fields of knowledge. Novices and experts need organizational leeway which allows time for creating “knowledge nuggets” (providing knowledge) and for learning (obtaining knowledge). The Lufthansa example shows that organizational leeway, the convergence of e‐learning and knowledge management in the form of rapid e‐learning, and introduction of knowledge transfer methods that provide opportunities for employees to obtain and provide knowledge, i.e. practice knowledge transfer on the job.


The contribution of this paper is that the authors develop an heuristic, which explains technically supported knowledge transfer processes among novices and experts, and their individual and organizational outcomes. The heuristic helps to classify knowledge transfer processes and their outcomes.



Wilkesmann, M. and Wilkesmann, U. (2011), "Knowledge transfer as interaction between experts and novices supported by technology", VINE, Vol. 41 No. 2, pp. 96-112.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.