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Understanding knowledge transfer and knowledge management through social learning

Ding Hooi Ting (Department of Management and Humanities, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Seri Iskandar, Malaysia)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 8 December 2022




Using social learning theory and the model of innovation diffusion, this study aims to provide reflections on how new information and knowledge can be shared and adopted by farmers in collectivist rural areas.


Firstly, the researcher selected 76 farmers from four rural villages in Perak, Malaysia, and, using semi-structured, probing interviews, explored the underlying factors that contribute to information and knowledge transfer. Secondly, the researcher analysed 452 questionnaires to validate the qualitative interview findings. Thirdly, the researcher analysed 487 questionnaires after nine months to determine whether differences had occurred in knowledge acceptance and adoption.


Social learning and local integration play prevalent roles in information and knowledge spread among individuals. However, the data also suggest that care must be taken to ensure that the knowledge spread does not jeopardise the prevailing collective structure; rather, it must begin with innovators who show evidence of improved yield.

Practical implications

The findings suggest strategies for researchers and practitioners to transfer knowledge to farming communities using innovators and the social learning process.

Social implications

Members of a collectivist society often find it difficult to deviate from the norm; therefore, understanding how local integration, sequencing of information and knowledge spread can be accomplished through proper protocols and ethics is important.


While prior research has produced insights into knowledge management among individuals, the field still lacks a comprehensive understanding of the germinal stages of how individuals initiate norm-breaking behaviour while continuing to adhere to societal norms.



This study is funded under the International Collaborative Research Fund (015ME0-247).


Ting, D.H. (2022), "Understanding knowledge transfer and knowledge management through social learning", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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