To read this content please select one of the options below:

Transferring codified knowledge: socio‐technical versus top‐down approaches

Gustavo Guzman (Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Luiz F. Trivelato (Faculdade Pitágoras, Betim, MG, Brazil)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 18 April 2008




This paper aims to analyse and evaluate the transfer process of codified knowledge (CK) performed under two different approaches: the “socio‐technical” and the “top‐down”. It is argued that the socio‐technical approach supports the transfer of CK better than the top‐down approach.


Case study methodology was used, in the explanatory and qualitative study. The empirical evidence focused on the development of work standards following ISO 9000 norms at a Steelworks plant. This process was examined as a process of CK transfer.


First, the socio‐technical approach supports the process of CK transfer better than the top‐down view. Second, CK is a dynamic concept that may need different varying amounts of tacit knowledge in order to enable knowledge codification and assimilation. Three, the examination of the degree of context and task similarity between sender and receiving units needs to be detailed, since small variations in organizational processes might imply significant alterations on informal work practices, a key issue that affects the CK transfer process.

Research limitations/implications

This study, on the one hand, might assist to further develop theories of knowledge transfer, such as Argote's et al. integrative knowledge management framework. On the other hand, it complements Szulanski's research since he did not explore the approach used during the implementation process.

Practical implications

Research finding contain practical advice that can the taken up by practitioners.


By focusing on different approaches to transfer CK, this study has filled a research gap in the CK transfer literature.



Guzman, G. and Trivelato, L.F. (2008), "Transferring codified knowledge: socio‐technical versus top‐down approaches", The Learning Organization, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 251-276.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles