Are internal knowledge transfer strategies double‐edged swords?

Xiu‐Hao Ding (Based at the School of Management, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China)
Heng Liu (Based at Lingnan College, Sun Yat‐sen University, Guangzhou, China)
Yongtao Song (Based at the Institute of Management Science and Engineering, Henan University, Kaifeng, China)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Publication date: 15 February 2013



After identifying two kinds of internal knowledge transfer strategies, the purpose of this paper is to examine their effectiveness and whether they induce knowledge spillovers among firms.


This study collected data in China and 219 questionnaires were achieved. Then, structure equation model by LISREL was used for hypotheses testing.


The empirical results suggest that both codification and rich‐media strategies have positive effects on internal knowledge transfer. Moreover, codification strategy has a negative effect on knowledge spillovers while rich‐media strategy does not influence knowledge spillovers significantly. Thus, codification and rich‐media strategies are not double‐edged swords.

Practical implications

This study provides firms with two strategies, codification and rich‐media, to promote internal knowledge transfer. Moreover, these strategies do not accelerate knowledge spillovers, and codification strategy even reduces knowledge spillovers. Firms can use these strategies to construct and sustain competitive advantages.


While many knowledge creation, storage and protection strategies are studied, little is known about internal knowledge transfer strategies. This study suggests two internal knowledge transfer strategies and confirms their effectiveness. Moreover, because the relationship between internal knowledge transfer strategies and knowledge spillovers has been puzzling for a long time, this study clarifies the relationship and finds that these strategies do not accelerate knowledge spillovers and some even restrain knowledge spillovers.



Ding, X., Liu, H. and Song, Y. (2013), "Are internal knowledge transfer strategies double‐edged swords?", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 69-86.

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