The purpose of this paper is to advance information technology (IT) adoption research and practice by investigating the process of knowledge transfer (KT) undertaken by suppliers of IT innovations. The authors expound the intricacies of formal and informal mechanisms of the KT initiative that aims at augmenting the absorptive capacity (ACAP) of potential IT adopters with the objective of increasing the likelihood of adoption of new IT products or services.
The authors draw on case studies of ten IT suppliers to build on the limited research on KT for customers in IT adoption. The authors focus on the for customer type of KT from the standpoint of the IT supplier firm.
The authors’ results show that complexity of the IT product or service increases the reliance on formal and systematic KT initiatives. This paper also shows that there is a required minimum threshold level of initial customers’ ACAP in order for the KT initiative to be worthwhile for the supplier, especially for those offering complex IT products and services. However, IT suppliers were found to limit their reliance on KT when they believed that customers that became too knowledgeable might threaten the innovation’s diffusion.
Since the authors’ case firms represented innovation suppliers, future studies should investigate customer-supplier dyads to explore and integrate the customer’s perspective in the analysis of the KT process. To this end, longitudinal studies would also provide immense insights into the KT process and how it evolves over time.
The main contribution of this paper consists of illuminating the workings of KT initiatives aimed at existing and potential customers from the standpoint of the IT innovation supplier. By focusing on the for customers aspect of KT, this paper advances the authors’ understanding of why and how IT suppliers should resort to formal vs informal KT mechanisms. The authors’ proposed framework also integrates and shows the roles of customers’ ACAP, complexity of the IT innovation, and tacitness of the knowledge transferred to the customers.
Daghfous, A., Belkhodja, O. and Ahmad, N. (2018), "Understanding and managing knowledge transfer for customers in IT adoption", Information Technology & People, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 428-454. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-10-2016-0222Download as .RIS
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