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How does contract completeness affect tacit knowledge acquisition?

Longwei Wang (School of Management, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)
Meige Song (School of Management, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)
Min Zhang (Queen's Management Schools, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK)
Li Wang (School of Management, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 20 July 2020

Issue publication date: 21 June 2021

618

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to empirically investigate the role of contracts in tacit knowledge acquisition in research and development (R&D) alliances. By combining the perspectives of sensemaking and transaction cost economics (TCE), this study proposes a model about the mechanisms through which shared goals and contract completeness jointly affect tacit knowledge acquisition.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopted a quantitative design and used the questionnaire survey method to collect data. The authors finally collected data on 196 R&D alliance samples in China. Multiple regression analysis was used to test the hypotheses.

Findings

There is strong empirical support that contract completeness has a positive effect on shared goals and that shared goals have a positive effect on tacit knowledge acquisition. Meanwhile, contract completeness weakens the positive effect of shared goals on tacit knowledge acquisition. Therefore, this study reveals that contract completeness has an inverted U-shaped effect on tacit knowledge acquisition.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that managers should consider both the psychological and rational effects of contract governance simultaneously, thus recognizing the importance of a moderate level of contract completeness for tacit knowledge acquisition in R&D alliances.

Originality/value

This study enhances the current understanding of contract governance by integrating the sensemaking and TCE perspectives. The findings provide a possible explanation of how contracts affect tacit knowledge acquisition in R&D alliances. The authors expand the research on contract governance and alliance knowledge acquisition by revealing the inverted U-shaped relationship between contract governance and tacit knowledge acquisition.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers of Journal of Knowledge Management for their valuable insights and comments on earlier versions of this paper.Funding information: This work is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71832009); Ministry of Education of Humanities and Social Science Project (Grant No. 20YJA630063).

Citation

Wang, L., Song, M., Zhang, M. and Wang, L. (2021), "How does contract completeness affect tacit knowledge acquisition?", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 989-1005. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-02-2020-0130

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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