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Cross‐cultural transfer of knowledge: a special case anomaly

Paul Brewer (University of Queensland Business School, Brisbane, Australia)

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal

ISSN: 1352-7606

Article publication date: 2 May 2008




This paper aims to determine whether the widely accepted proposition that cultural differences impact negatively on flows of knowledge and information stands through all industries.


The evidence regarding the affects of cultural differences on knowledge transfers is strong. This paper looks at a special case where the relationship is not the same. A study is undertaken within a business school involving a sample of postgraduate fee‐paying business program students. The students are classified into their respective cultural groups in accordance with the GLOBE Study classifications. Their exam results are then analysed to detect any differences relating to those cultural groups.


In the case studies there is no significant difference in the average results obtained by each of the cultural groups.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited to the students in particular classes in one university in Australia. From a research perspective the paper shows that the research community should not presume a negative effect on knowledge flows caused by cultural differences in all cases.

Practical implications

Business managers should be wary of anticipating such affects and in introducing costly measures to counteract them. Business, at least in this respect, may well be heterogeneous and cultural effects should be considered carefully on a case‐by‐case basis.


This is the first study illustrating an anomalous situation where cultural differences between supplier and customers may actually act in favour of successful delivery of knowledge services.



Brewer, P. (2008), "Cross‐cultural transfer of knowledge: a special case anomaly", Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 131-143.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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