The interactive effect of communication media choice and personal relationships on tacit knowledge transfer success : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Business Studies in Business Information Systems at Massey University, Manawatu campus, New Zealand
The transfer of tacit knowledge can be facilitated by personal relationship strength
and by choosing appropriate communication media. However, the interactive effect
of personal relationships and media choice on tacit knowledge transfer success has
not been studied. Therefore, this study aims to investigate how relationship strength
and media choice affect tacit knowledge transfer, and most importantly, how media
choice interacts with relationship strength.
Data were collected via a questionnaire survey of New Zealand university teachers in
the disciplines of human health and medicine. Exploratory Factor Analysis and
Structural Equation Modelling were used to analyse the survey data and to test the
model. Then, follow-up interviews were carried out with six participants, to collect
in-depth qualitative data focusing on the mechanisms behind the relationships to be
found statistically significant in the model.
Fitting the model by using partial least square structural equation modelling
suggested that a higher level of closeness between individuals lead to better tacit
knowledge transfer success, the relationship was stronger when individuals use both
synchronous media and asynchronous media than when they use only synchronous
media. Qualitative results were used to help interpret the quantitative findings by
highlighting the importance of the development of common understanding, and by
pointing out the fact that individuals adjusted their communication styles to be more
suitable for each other.
This study contributes to theory by testing Media Synchronicity Theory in the field of
tacit knowledge transfer, and by exploring the mechanisms of the change of
individuals’ media choice over time.