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Trust, control and knowledge transfer in small business\ud networks

By Maurizio Massaro, Andrea Moro, E. Aschauer and Matthias Fink


The ability to transfer knowledge effectively in the networks of small and\ud medium-sized firms (SMEs) is paramount for supporting firm competitiveness. Our\ud research is the first one that explores the joint effect of trust and control mechanisms\ud on knowledge transfer in the case of networks of SMEs. We use a multiple case\ud study approach based on six Italian networks of SMEs. We analyse the joint impact\ud of different ethical based trustworthiness factors—namely benevolence and integ-\ud rity—and the levers of control (LOCs)—namely, belief, boundary, diagnostic and\ud interactive LOCs—on knowledge transfer between SMEs in networks. We find that\ud trust substitutes for the implementation of boundary, diagnostic, and belief tools,\ud while it works jointly with interactive tools in order to support knowledge transfer.\ud These insights not only provide a rich foundation for follow-up research, but also\ud inform SME managers about how to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of\ud knowledge transfer with their network partners

Publisher: Springer
Year: 2017
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