Year

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Management and Marketing

Abstract

The ultimate objective for this thesis is to assist Saudi engineering research organisations in achieving positive change in their learning organisation capacity (LOC) to become globally competitive. The thesis examines the knowledge transfer process between three Saudi engineering research organisations and external knowledge suppliers (e.g. overseas experts). It also examines the knowledge transfer process between staff within each organisation and between staff and the local Saudi industry. It investigates knowledge transfer as three flows: (1) external to internal, (2) internal to internal, and (3) internal to external. The thesis has three main parts. Part 1 establishes a baseline of 23 indicators using LOC as a proxy for measuring the performance of the research organisations in broad knowledge management terms. This was part of the first research cycle. The findings showed weaknesses in the majority of the indicators. Part 2 identifies and maps 60 business processes at the research organisations and the knowledge flow blockages within each process. This was part of the second research cycle. The findings showed inefficiencies and knowledge blockages in the majority of core processes. Part 3 identifies the nature of 269 underlying knowledge transfer barriers from five dimensions: (a) the knowledge itself, (b) the individuals, (c) the organisation, (d) the national environment and (e) the international environment. This was part of the third research cycle. The findings showed varying impacts of these barriers on knowledge flows. Validation of identified issues and preliminary solutions were also discussed. This was part of the fourth research cycle. The findings showed that the top management at the three organisations denied or defended the majority of the negative outcomes of the 23 LOC measurement indicators, the inefficiencies in the 60 business processes and the reasons underlying the 269 knowledge transfer barriers. The knowledge transfer strategy blueprint provided a high-level guide to address the above issues. The thesis adopts an Action Research (AR) methodology, and while there is survey data and numbers presented, it is primarily a qualitative case study.

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