To read this content please select one of the options below:

Exploring individual-level and group-level levers for inter-organizational knowledge transfer

Jan Merok Paulsen (Business Administration, Hedmark University College, Rena, Norway)
Kjell Brynjulf Hjertø (Business Administration, Hedmark University College, Rena, Norway)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 6 May 2014




This purpose of this article is to contribute to the research on the role of individual and group-level autonomy and absorptive capacity for inter-organizational knowledge transfer.


The study investigated a field sample of 274 individual participants in 82 groups who were taking part in a large-scale benchmarking project in the Norwegian public sector. Hypotheses were developed and tested by using multiple regression, structural equation modeling and hierarchical linear modeling and included an empirical test of moderator effects.


The findings suggest that individual and group autonomy, along with individual experiences of absorptive capacity, supports complementarily inter-organizational knowledge transfer.

Research limitations/implications

The study reinforces the idea that individual and group autonomy are enabling conditions for knowledge transfer from project settings to parent organizations. Absorptive capacity, in line with more recent theorizing, is conceived of and measured as an organizational meta-routine, and we recommend replication of this study in various multi-level settings using longitudinal designs.

Practical implications

The study encourages managers to focus on distributing powers to individual facilitation and boundary-spanning roles and on creating cross-functional venues that promote the sharing of knowledge across different organizational units. The study also recommends that practitioners pay attention to the prominent role of autonomy at both the individual and group levels to support the dissemination of knowledge across boundaries.


The study provides empirical evidence regarding the simultaneous role of individual autonomy, group autonomy and absorptive capacity that together provide the explanatory power required for knowledge transfer in inter-organizational settings.



Merok Paulsen, J. and Brynjulf Hjertø, K. (2014), "Exploring individual-level and group-level levers for inter-organizational knowledge transfer", The Learning Organization, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 274-287.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles