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Knowledge transfer and absorptive capacity in Russian‐Western business settings: Reflection on commentators' critique

Snejina Michailova (The University of Auckland Business School, Auckland, New Zealand)

critical perspectives on international business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 25 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a response to four commentaries on the original viewpoint entitled “Knowledge transfer between Russian and Western firms: whose absorptive capacity is in question?” (CPoIB, Vol. 7 No. 3). As a response, the paper reflects on several points put forward in the critique by the four commentators.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper engages in a debate and critically reflects on issues regarding knowledge transfer and absorptive capacity in the context of business interactions between Russian and Western firms.

Findings

The paper revisits the notions of “knowledge”, “knowledge transfer” and “absorptive capacity” and argues that moving away from a functionalist framework is useful when analyzing these terms in the context of Russian‐Western business settings. The paper also discusses the applicability and relevance of some Soviet management practices in contemporary Russia and in conducting business with Western partners. The role of Russian business schools in reproducing, generating and disseminating knowledge is also discussed.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is a continuation of the discussion on issues and questions related to knowledge transfer between Russian and Western firms. It outlines research directions worth pursuing in the future.

Practical implications

Western managers are advised to treat knowledge transfer as a two‐way learning process rather than seeing themselves merely as a source of superior knowledge that needs to be transferred to Russian business partners. Russian managers will benefit from understanding the dynamics of knowledge transfer processes and refining their view on absorptive capacity.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the ongoing academic conversation on issues of knowledge transfer between Russian and Western firms. It engages in a critical reflection on issues put forward in the original paper on this topic and on four commentaries, published in this issue of CPoIB.

Keywords

Citation

Michailova, S. (2011), "Knowledge transfer and absorptive capacity in Russian‐Western business settings: Reflection on commentators' critique", critical perspectives on international business, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 367-374. https://doi.org/10.1108/17422041111180818

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited