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Culture and knowledge

Business researcher seeks ‘black box’ link for multinational enterprises


A researcher at Memorial is studying how culture affects the capacity of individual companies to successfully develop large multinational organizations.

Dr. Chansoo Park, an assistant professor of international business at the Faculty of Business Administration, has been awarded a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for his study, The Impact of Differences in Organizational Culture on the Transfer of Knowledge in Canadian and American Multinational Enterprises: The Role of Relational Capital and Longevity. The grant is for $54,958 over two years.

Dr. Chansoo Park stands in front of a set of flags from around the world in the business building at Memorial University.
Dr. Chansoo Park has won a SSHRC grant to study the impact of culture on multinational enterprises.

As companies merge and form partnerships, an efficient transfer of knowledge between the partnering organizations becomes increasingly important in remaining competitive and ensuring success in global markets, says Dr. Park.

That efficiency is affected by a number of factors, such as the financial and legal frameworks in different countries or the governance structure of organizations. Differences in culture may also impact the efficiency of knowledge transfer. Dr. Park is looking at organizational culture, in particular.

‘Culture is not constant’

Knowledge transfer is not a simple process in global markets, he says. His approach is that culture is not constant.

“There has been much research conducted on the relationship between knowledge transfer and cultural distance. But culture is very dynamic and the relationships between the two could be different, depending on the company’s age and maturity. This is a very innovative approach to solve a puzzle between the two — culture and knowledge transfer.”

Dr. Park will look specifically at two facets of culture, organizational culture and national culture, and whether there are differences in the way they impact knowledge transfer.

“Overall, I’m analyzing the black box between the relationship of culture and knowledge transfer.” — Dr. Chansoo Park

He’ll also examine the differences between two types of knowledge: explicit and tacit. Explicit knowledge is knowledge that is highly codified, he says, such as an instructional manual. Tacit, or implicit, knowledge reflects individual experiences and is embedded in organizational routines and practices.

“If we divide knowledge into two types of knowledge, codified and uncodified knowledge, maybe the impact of each factor will be a little different,” he said. “Overall, I’m analyzing the black box between the relationship of culture and knowledge transfer.”

Broader research impact

Dr. Park hopes his work will encourage other researchers to think more critically and broadly about knowledge transfers between firms.

For practitioners, especially the managers of a partnership, he expects this research will improve understanding of knowledge transfer processes and barriers and increase awareness of organizational needs. This would allow for more effective platforms for exchanges of knowledge and ultimately seeking to provide insight mechanisms to improve inter-organizational learning.

In addition to Dr. Park, who is the principal investigator on the project, the research team includes Dr. Ilan Vertinsky, University of British Columbia, as a co-applicant, and collaborators Dr. Dana Minbaeva, Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, and Dr. Manuel Becerra, University of Queensland in Australia.

Drs. Park, Vertinsky and Becerra previously worked together on a project examining the role of experience on knowledge transfer with the resulting paper being published recently in the International Business Review.

Award-winning researcher

Dr. Park worked for the Centre for International Business Studies at the University of British Columbia as a research associate prior to joining Memorial. He has taught courses in international busi­ness and strategy in Canada, China and South Korea and has international experience working with a multinational enterprise. He has also worked for Amore Pacific Corporation, the largest beauty and cosmetics conglomerate in South Korea, as a marketing manager at its headquarters in Seoul.

Dr. Park holds a graduate certificate in executive coaching from Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C., where he received the Graham Dickson Leadership and Learning Award. He also holds a PhD in international business and strategy from Sogang University in Seoul, a top business school in South Korea, and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Park recently received the Highest Award for Achievement upon completing a leadership course from Dale Carnegie Training.

His recent research interests are global strategy, competitive strategy in developing countries and strategic leadership.

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