Knowledge transfer in MNCs: Examining how intrinsic motivations and knowledge sourcing impact individual centrality and performance

Academic Article


  • Studies investigating individual performance in knowledge-intensive work are finding that individual performance is a result, to some degree, of obtaining the right information to solve novel, challenging problems. Yet we know little about the role that the individual plays in the knowledge processes in multinationals and the relationship between individual knowledge sourcing activities and performance. Our expectation is that successful knowledge transfer will be based on an individual's intrinsic motivation, access to knowledge from explicit or tacit knowledge sources within and across firm boundaries, and position in the overall advice network of the multinational corporation. Using survey and social network data collected in one multinational consulting firm, we investigated the knowledge sourcing activities and informal advice networks for 1439 of the entire 1698 individuals in one multinational spread across 28 offices (84.7% response rate). Through hierarchical regression analysis we find that 1) intrinsic motivations are strongly related to creativity and efficiency and 2) MNCs should support individual level activities that include not only the use of internal knowledge sources but also the use of external knowledge sources. Research results also suggest that 3) there are different patterns of knowledge sourcing activities based on whether efficient or creative performance is the goal and 4) these differ significantly depending upon the functional group to which the individual belongs. Implications for theories of the knowledge-based view of the multinational corporation and practical implications for managers are discussed. © 2008.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Teigland R; Wasko M
  • Start Page

  • 15
  • End Page

  • 31
  • Volume

  • 15
  • Issue

  • 1