A formal approach to modelling knowledge transfer processes

  • Jin Tong

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    An organisation's competitive advantage depends on its ability to transfer knowledge effectively. Research suggests that knowledge transfer (KT) remains a problem for many organisations. The available literature on this subject is loosely associated and often decoupled from the context of KT processes. Consequently, very few of the existing studies can be used directly to diagnose any transfer problems and identify appropriate strategies in practice. This situation could be improved if we relate these studies to a low-level KT model. The aim of this research is to define KT at a detailed level and develop a model that can be used for analysing KT problems in practice.

    By following a first principles approach, a graphical low-level KT model is developed. This model allows a wide range of KT processes to be represented by showing people's behaviours that take place in the course of transfer. It can be used in reviewing an organisation's KT practice and proposing suitable strategies for improvement.

    A formal KT model is developed using Communicating Sequential Processes (CSP). The dynamics and complexities in the process of KT are well represented using the concurrency theory in CSP. This model is formalised based on the graphical model. It is veried through CSP model-checking technique using an CSP analysis tool - FDR. This formal KT model provides a precise and systematic framework in understanding KT.

    The formal KT model captures people's behaviours in general KT situations. In reality, KT systems vary and often have deficiencies in many organisations. We also propose to analyse their KT problems using a formal approach which analyses their problematic transfer systems against our formal KT model. This approach is demonstrated in a case study.

    The application of a process algebra in analysing KT is a novel idea. It explores a new direction of studying human knowledge related processes in the KM domain. We hope our effort serves to inspire new ideas and approaches to the wider KM community.
    Date of Award2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorSiraj Shaikh (Supervisor)

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