Inderscience Publishers

Reverse knowledge and technology transfer: imbalances caused by cognitive barriers in asymmetric relationships

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An imbalance exists in almost any type of knowledge and technology transfer due to the information asymmetry of the relationship. However, this is especially the case for reverse technology and knowledge transfer which is epitomised for us by 'transfers from an MNC's subsidiary to its headquarters'. This paper builds on the few pieces of research in the area of reverse knowledge transfer and, by integrating the cognitive barriers to reverse knowledge transfer produces a conceptualisation which emphasises the importance of informal mechanisms such as social networks. This establishes a theoretical framework for the investigation of barriers to successful reverse knowledge transfer including failure of psychological contracts, perceived lack of procedural justice, a lack of intrinsic motivation, psychic distance and liability of foreignness.

Keywords: reverse knowledge transfer, technology transfer, cognitive barriers, asymmetric relationships, MNC headquarters, subsidiary, MNC imbalance, MNC subsidiaries, multinational corporations, MNCs, social networks, psychological contracts, procedural justice, intrinsic motivation, psychic distance, foreignness

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