Can Transfer Methods Skew Knowledge Adoption? Experiments on Transferring Multiple Knowledge Inputs

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In this paper, I examine how knowledge transfer methods may skew the adoption of multiple knowledge inputs. I propose that transfer methods vary in their potential to trigger cognitive heuristics used by individuals to form ex ante assessments about the value of multiple information stimuli. Such differences affect how knowledge receivers focus (or disperse) cognitive resources across inputs within a knowledge set. This mechanism skews knowledge transfer towards some (and away from other) knowledge inputs. I also advance that pre-transfer experience may magnify this effect as experience enables the use of informational cues to make ex ante value assessments. I test and find empirical support for my predictions in two experiments - an online experiment with 383 gig workers and a field experiment with 516 managers from a large retail company. Both experiments vary whether individuals receive multiple knowledge inputs via knowledge transfer methods that display more or less informational cues about the value of individual knowledge inputs. This paper contributes to the literature on how transfer methods affect knowledge transfer and on how perceptions about knowledge content affect human capital formation. Results also have a practical implication by showing that transfer methods designed to facilitate knowledge flows may carry trade-offs in terms of which knowledge inputs are successfully transferred.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eighty-first Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsSonia Taneja
Number of pages6
Place of PublicationBriarcliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2021
Article number9
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2021: Bringing the Manager Back in Management - Online, Virtual, Online
Duration: 29 Jul 20214 Aug 2021
Conference number: 81


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Proceedings


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