Facoltà di scienze della comunicazione

Knowledge communication problems between experts and managers : an analysis of knowledge transfer in decision processes

Eppler, Martin J.

This article proposes a communication perspective on the problem of knowledge transfer between experts and managers in organizational decision making processes. We outline why this perspective is important and we show where and when knowledge communication matters. After an overview of typical knowledge communication situations in management, we define knowledge communication and differentiate it... Plus

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    Summary
    This article proposes a communication perspective on the problem of knowledge transfer between experts and managers in organizational decision making processes. We outline why this perspective is important and we show where and when knowledge communication matters. After an overview of typical knowledge communication situations in management, we define knowledge communication and differentiate it from other types of professional communication. We do so by showing that what is communicated differs from regular communication contexts, as well as how one communicates. We then review 26 existing theoretical concepts that describe barriers to knowledge communication. We relate these constructs to results obtained from 7 focus groups with engineers and IT experts and 30 interviews with managers and consultants. Based on our findings, we categorize typical knowledge communication problems between experts and managers into five groups: expert-caused, manager-caused, reciprocal mistakes, situation-caused, and organizational barriers. As a synthesis, we propose a structural model of the drivers of knowledge communication quality. The article closes with implications for management and outlines open issues and future research questions.