Leadership culture, knowledge transfer and performance in the context of a large Norwegian multinational corporation
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- Master of Science 
Organizational knowledge transfer is argued by several researchers to be an important tool for increasing organizational performance and could be the source of a sustainable competitive advantage. Knowledge transfer in multinational corporations (MNCs) is considered as especially important because it is argued that MNCs exist primarily because of their superior ability to transfer knowledge effectively and efficiently throughout its various units that are located in different parts of the world. Despite of the fact that several researchers highlight knowledge transfer as an important factor for increasing performance, the empirical studies that have actually examined the explicit link between knowledge transfer and performance have found mixed results (van Wijk, Jansen and Lyles 2008). Moreover, the process of knowledge transfer is complicated, which has inspired several researchers to examine the influencing factors on the process of knowledge transfer. Studies that have investigated knowledge transfer have identified a multitude of influencing factors on the process that could either enable or disable effective knowledge transfer. Several of the identified factors have been extensively studied, but organizational culture as an influencing factor has received less critical research attention and there is a lack of studies that empirically investigate the effect organizational culture might have on knowledge transfer. Furthermore, the transformational and transactional leadership cultures are two interesting culture profiles which have received little research attention in the existing literature. No other studies have investigated the relationship between these two leadership cultures and inter-unit knowledge transfer in MNCs. In this study we first examine the explicit link between inter-unit knowledge transfer and unit performance, and secondly we examine the link between the transactional and transformational culture and knowledge transfer. To examine these links we test our hypotheses in the context of a large Norwegian MNC that operates as consultants in the oil and gas industry, where we analyze 66 units located in various parts of the world. Our results show that inter-unit knowledge transfer has a positive and significant effect on unit performance, and that the transformational culture has a positive significant effect on inter-unit knowledge transfer. The transactional culture on the other hand had no significant effect on inter-unit knowledge transfer. Our findings have important implications for both managers and academics. Managers in MNCs should encourage and facilitate inter-unit knowledge transfer, as this could potentially lead to better performance. And that the managers should consider fostering a transformational culture if their aim is to increase inter-unit knowledge transfer. Our research is a first step in the direction of getting a more comprehensive understanding on how the two leadership cultures influences inter-unit KT in an MNC, but more research needs to be in place before we can be certain about its actual effect. Future research and academics should develop the Organizational Description Questionnaire (ODQ) as well as our proposed research model further and empirically investigate more closely why and which aspects of the transformational and transactional culture that actually influences knowledge transfer. That is, how the “Four I’s” and the “Contingent Reward and Management By Exception” that are used to describe the two leadership cultures actually influences knowledge transfer.