Signaling, spillover and learning effects of knowledge flows on division performance within related diversified firms
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This study addresses the performance consequences of knowledge transfer within related diversified firms by distinguishing between knowledge outflows and knowledge inflows at the business division level. Questionnaire data from a sample of 118 business divisions were analyzed using stepwise linear regression. The results from a three-effect model for the analysis of knowledge transfer indicate that knowledge outflow improves division performance, while knowledge inflow damages it when absorptive capacity is weak. The overall effect of knowledge transfer is therefore beneficial with the exception of the cases of receiving divisions with low levels of absorptive capacity. These results indicate that knowledge transfer contributes to overall corporate performance, since knowledge outflow impacts positively on division performance in all cases and knowledge inflow impacts negatively on division performance only in some cases. Setting aside the obvious task of promoting knowledge transfer within the firm, one important concern for corporate officers would be to prevent situations in which a division lacks the absorptive capacity to play its role within a corporate network. This work contributes to existent literature by disentangling the effects of knowledge transfer according to different theoretical perspectives, and it provides an empirical examination in a setting which is intensive in knowledge transference, as is that of business divisions from related diversified firms.