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Facilitating learning and knowledge transfer through supplier development

Mihalis Giannakis (Warwick Business School, Coventry, UK)

Supply Chain Management

ISSN: 1359-8546

Article publication date: 25 January 2008



This paper aims to explore how supplier development programmes can be adapted to create value for organisations through generation and transfer of knowledge between supply chain partners.


Based on the existing literature on supplier development, knowledge transfer and learning and on the interaction model of the Industrial Marketing and Purchasing group, certain factors that condition learning and knowledge transfer through supplier development programmes are discussed and a conceptual framework for improving knowledge transfer is developed. Empirical research is conducted in four large multinational organisations, exploring how supply chain partners can better utilise their capabilities and facilitate knowledge transfer through these programmes.


Several organisational and relational factors that affect the success of knowledge transfer in supplier development programmes are identified and discussed and several management practices are proposed to enhance the knowledge transfer process within these programmes.

Research limitations/implications

The research provides evidence that knowledge transfer requires not only financial commitment and strategic decision making, but also appropriate design and execution of certain processes and a distinctive governance structure. Based on the findings a research agenda is proposed to investigate the impact of knowledge transfer on suppliers' productivity and the associated risk arising from knowledge leakages.

Practical implications

A systematic methodology is proposed to explore how supplier development programmes can achieve their potential among supply chain partners, by examining how certain factors influence the knowledge transfer process.


The paper proposes an innovative framework for analysing knowledge transfer among and between organisations and a knowledge‐based perspective in the design and management of supplier development programmes, so that a learning and knowledge transfer environment can be fostered.



Giannakis, M. (2008), "Facilitating learning and knowledge transfer through supplier development", Supply Chain Management, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 62-72.



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