An Investigation of Partner Similarity Dimensions on Knowledge Transfer

Eric D. Darr, Terri R. Kurtzberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

250 Scopus citations


Learning from the experiences of others can provide significant benefits for an organization, but it can be difficult to know who has the most useful or applicable knowledge. Knowledge is acquired from many sources: from within the firm; from other firms; or from competitors, customers, suppliers, and channel partners. Managers must decide how to efficiently search through a universe of potential knowledge sources to select the knowledge that will be the most useful to them. This research examines the conditions under which partner similarity enhances knowledge transfer. Previous research has argued that partner similarity influences knowledge sharing through attraction. Building on past work, our research argues that attraction is only one mechanism by which partner similarity affects knowledge transfer and introduces the idea that partner similarity aids the search through a universe of potential knowledge sources. The dimensions of partner similarity that allow more efficient search will facilitate knowledge transfer, while those similarity dimensions that do not aid search will have a less important impact on transfer. Data from both quantitative and qualitative sources support these hypotheses. Quantitative analyses show that strategic similarity emerges as a more important dimension than customer or location similarities as a significant predictor of knowledge transfer. Qualitative interview data show that businesses are conscious of the strategic similarities within their industry and choose transfer partners accordingly.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)28-44
Number of pages17
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


  • Knowledge transfer; strategic similarity; partner selection; organizational learning.


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