All Aboard the Knowledge Express… Next Stop Miami?

Not to worry cohorts, The Tacit Saga will indeed continue and inevitably conclude, but until then I’d like to spend some time sharing and reflecting on a couple articles I’ve recently read…

Authors Argote and Ingram (2000) and Brown and Duguide (1991) may have published their work almost a decade apart, but the connective tissue embedded in each article was highly evident. The basic connective premise of the respective articles was the idea of knowledge transfer and how the participate members and surrounding contexts utilize shared knowledge as a means to formulate and perpetuate community. While Argote and Ingram (2000) break down knowledge transfer as a concept to be used to analyze competitive advantage within organzations, Brown and Duguide (1991) focus more so on the idea of shared knowledge as a component of learning and practice within an organization. Through their research processes and conceptual development, however, several connections can be found. Before I uncover these connections I’d like to explain a few interesting points and then use a real life experience to help explain the overarching theme I’ve eluded to in the blog’s title.
I guess the best place to start is from the beginning of the chosen articles, the first of which was Argote and Ingram’s (2000) Knowledge Transfer: A Basis for Competitive Advantage in Firms.  In the article the authors define knowledge transfer as;

“The process through which one unit is affected by the experience of another.” (p. 151)

The authors build on this definition throughout the article as they continue their examination of knowledge transfer and note an observation that sparked even more of an interest than the others. Argote and Ingram (2000) write,
“When people are moved to a new context to transfer knowledge, they become “minorities” in the context of the majority at the new site.” (p. 164)
This conclusion drew a greater interest than the others because it offered support to research I conducted as a communication undergrad which primarily focused on how communication and cultural diversity can create a community separate from the whole of a larger population. As I mentioned in one of my weekly tweets, the instance in which I focused on the insider/outsider phenomenon was that of the Cuban population in Miami FL, where I (as the researcher and observer) was suddenly the minority in a community and culture highly dissimilar from my own in Kentucky, where I had been the majority for my entire life. Although my previous study only lasted one week, with the additional observations and conclusions provided by Argote and Ingram (2000) I would have been able to expand my conclusion a bit further. Like many who travel and live for an extended amount of time in another country, individuals often adapt culturally to new contexts. Knowledge transfer is almost inevitable if someone is truly willing to submerse themselves into a community where they often become the minority of a new context.

Even though Argote and Ingram (2000) focus much of their research on organizations and firms I believe their research would lend as excellent support for cultural knowledge transfer as well, including the transfers of language, customs, and lifestyle as people travel and live in other countries. It would also be particularly interesting to examine the motivation for this type of knowledge transfer (i.e. motivated by necessity vs. motivated by desire) and if the transfer is almost inevitable within these contexts.

I guess that just about does it for this entry but stay tuned, an examination of Brown and Duguide (1991) is soon to follow!



  1. C. Sean Burns · February 17, 2016

    From cultural knowledge to cultural informatics — carry this with you!


  2. rhugenwrites · February 23, 2016

    So what do you think about ethnography and participant observation in the cases of insider/outsider and how it may affect knowledge exchange.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cawats4 · March 7, 2016

      This is an excellent point. Fighting the insider/outsider barrier while conducting a ethnogrpahy would in deed be challenging especially in regards to knowledge exchange. To the inside group one might always be seen as an outsider, regardless of how long they are involved with the group or how hard they attempt to assimilate. So you would have to wonder if they ever truly reach the level of assilimation necessary to fully understand a culture as a “first person.” Participate observation can lend incredible cultural insight but you raise an important question on how to overcome the insider/outsider knowledge exchange barrier.


      • rhugenwrites · March 12, 2016

        A really great example of this is one from the ’90s, it’s called “Mama Lola” an ethnography centering on a vodu priestess in Harlem.

        Liked by 1 person

      • rhugenwrites · April 21, 2016

        How does one identify with people without “going native”? I know that this was a problem for several ethnography authors that I have read.


  3. rhmaxsonlis658 · March 7, 2016

    Do you think that the transfer of cultural knowledge might be more difficult than that of other types? Culture, one would think, is much more heavily rooted in tacit knowledge than, say, the practices of a particular workplace or university. Or would it be easier, for someone flexible enough to not cling to their own tacit cultural knowledge?

    Liked by 1 person

    • cawats4 · March 7, 2016

      The transfer of cultural knowledge might depend on the motivations of the individual possibly trying to assimilate. It would certainly take much more time and effort to truly up root their previously tacit cultural knowledge and settle elsewhere. The roots might not ever be as deep as before but I do believe there are people flexible enough to achieve this level of transfer.


      • rhmaxsonlis658 · March 8, 2016

        Thanks for the prompt response. That’s pretty much in line with what I think, and the point about the motivation for assimilation is well-taken.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s