How knowledge is disseminated in personal business networks and how this is used in a very traditional industry

[German title: Wie Wissen in persönlichen Geschäftsnetzwerken weitergegeben wird und wie dies in einer sehr traditionellen Branche genutzt wird]

Title: Vocational training: trust, talk and knowledge transfer in small businesses 
Author(s): Allan Butler, Matt Reed, Phil Le Grice 
Journal: Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development 
ISSN: 1462-6004 
Year: 2007 Volume: 14 Issue: 2 Page: 280 – 293 
DOI: 10.1108/14626000710746709 
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited 

Abstract: Purpose – Vocational training by those involved in small land-based businesses can lead to innovation as transferred knowledge may be applied to make marginal changes to enterprises or, in some cases, a major reorganisation of resources within a business. The purpose of this paper is to explore how knowledge is disseminated in personal business networks and how this is used in a very traditional industry.
Design/methodology/approach – A synthesis of three interrelated concepts, those of knowledge, social network structure and trust in relationships, provides the basis for a tripartite model of knowledge transfer. Through conducting in-depth interviews, data are collected on each aspect of the model to map the structure of personal business networks, to provide qualitative data on the type of relationships that exist within these and to whom knowledge has been transferred.
Findings – The emphasis on innovation through loose ties or the role of the outsider may not be an appropriate model for small land-based business. With the pre-dominance of strong ties and low flows of information, these businesses are unlikely to change either quickly or easily. Radical changes to business structure imply a more costly and focused intervention than the current emphasis on project and programme based support for rural businesses.
Research limitations/implications – Creating a snapshot of knowledge transfer occurring in small land-based businesses provides valuable insights into the flows of information within a business and how training is deployed. However, a longitudinal study would deepen understanding of how cumulative knowledge transfer is practically implemented.
Originality/value – Applying social network analysis to small businesses to examine knowledge transfer is in itself innovative, particularly as the research draws upon a peer-group of businesses enabling some comparisons to be made. 

Keywords: Knowledge transfer, Small enterprises, Social networks, Trust, United Kingdom, Vocational training 

Article Type: Research paper 

Article URL:
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