The paper seeks to provide a commentary on Michailova and Jormanainen's viewpoint entitled “Knowledge transfer between Russian and Western firms: whose absorptive capacity is in question?”(CPoIB, Vol. 7 No. 3).
The paper offers a critical analysis of issues regarding knowledge transfer and absorptive capacity in the context of business interactions between Russian and Western firms.
Based on the author's 25 years of experience in knowledge transfer between Western and Russian counterparts (managers, companies and researchers), the generic concepts “knowledge”, “Western” and “Russian” no longer provide meaningful points of reference for actual knowledge transfer.
Research so far has failed to develop the tools for realistic assessment of current Russian and Western absorptive capacity and has provided inadequate explanations for the hurdles, resistances and other barriers still entailed in the process of knowledge transfer between the two sides. This commentary suggests that the basic assumptions behind the scholarly literature about knowledge transfer between Western and Russian interactants should be examined carefully and that research should focus on identifying the factors that facilitate as well as the factors that impede effective knowledge transfer. The scholarly conversation on the topic needs to continue, particularly through genuine collaboration between Russians and Westerners and between researchers and practitioners.
It is recommended that a system is needed for establishing and sustaining effective knowledge transfer which would both enrich understanding of how such transfer actually works and articulate specific behavorial guidelines that will help each side to transfer their relevant knowledge and increase their own absorptive capacity more effectively.
The commentary challenges some existing views and practices and outlines new directions in relation to both research and practice regarding knowledge transfer between Russian and Western firms.
Vlachoutsicos, C. (2011), "A commentary on “Knowledge transfer between Russian and Western firms: whose absorptive capacity is in question?” by Snejina Michailova and Irina Jormanainen", critical perspectives on international business, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 357-363. https://doi.org/10.1108/17422041111180791
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