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Knowledge transfer within relationship portfolios: the creation of knowledge recombination rents

Massimiliano Matteo Pellegrini (Department of Management and Law, Universita degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata , Roma, Italy)
Andrea Caputo (Lincoln Business School, Lincoln, UK)
Lee Matthews (Lincoln Business School, Lincoln, UK)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 4 July 2018

Issue publication date: 8 February 2019




The purpose of this paper is to clarify the underdeveloped conceptualization of a particular type network rents, defined as knowledge recombination rents, related to the possibility for a firm to transfer and recombine knowledge within and across its portfolio of inter-organizational relationships.


Adopting a contingency approach, the authors develop a comprehensive model with propositions drawn from an original synthesis of the extant literature on the management of inter-organizational relationships.


The authors summarize the most important internal and external variables that explain how knowledge recombination rents arise within a firm’s portfolio of inter-organizational relationships. The authors create a seven-proposition model that considers: an “internal fit,” related to internal contingencies of the firm, specifically life stage and its strategy; an “external fit,” related to external contingencies of the network of the firm, specifically past experience and current portfolio structure.

Research limitations/implications

The model is theory driven. Future research should validate empirically the relations proposed, especially in different industries and contexts.

Practical implications

The model, beyond the fact of being theoretically sounded, is also completely practical oriented. Indeed, the authors developed a comprehensive model articulated in seven propositions which relationship managers can easily use to analyze and manage their portfolios of inter-organizational relationships.


The model allows us to assert that the value of an inter-organizational relationship is neither fixed nor just related to the single dyadic interaction; rather before engaging with a relationship is crucial to ponder possible benefits and harms. This is the central element in the contribution that develops an easy-to-use and comprehensive model based on best practices.



Pellegrini, M.M., Caputo, A. and Matthews, L. (2019), "Knowledge transfer within relationship portfolios: the creation of knowledge recombination rents", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 202-218.



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