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Knowledge transfer within Japanese multinationals: building a theory

Pavel Štrach (Researcher, University of Economics, Prague, Czech Republic.)
André M. Everett (Senior Lecturer, Department of Management, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Publication date: 1 January 2006



The purpose of this research is to explore the theoretical underpinnings of knowledge transfer within Japanese multinationals. To that end, a conceptual model of knowledge transfer within Japanese multinational companies and their overseas affiliates is proposed.


In the first part, theoretical models of knowledge transfer within multinationals in general are explored through a literature review. Next, related knowledge management practices utilized by Japanese companies, specifically in their overseas subsidiaries, are introduced. The third section develops a conceptual model proposing how knowledge is disseminated within Japanese multinationals. The discussion is based on the assumption that Japanese firms consciously apply the same knowledge management methods abroad as at home only to the extent to which they consider them appropriate for transplanting into a foreign environment.


Distillation of prior research has led to the conceptual model proposed here. This general model incorporates two principal dimensions (facilitating factors and knowledge flows). An examination of Japanese managerial practices in light of these dimensions illuminates the relationships between some recognized typically Japanese traditions and their implications for knowledge transfer approaches and activities.


The intention of this paper is to provide insights useful to practitioners as well as academic researchers. Non‐Japanese firms can further their understanding of the motivations and rationale behind Japanese practices, while Japanese companies may apply some of the reasoning to their decisions regarding which of their practices, methods, and knowledge to transfer abroad and by what means. The paper concludes with suggestions for further research.



Štrach, P. and Everett, A.M. (2006), "Knowledge transfer within Japanese multinationals: building a theory", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 55-68.



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