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Mobilizing Institutional Knowledge for International Projects: A Summary Report

TitleMobilizing Institutional Knowledge for International Projects: A Summary Report
Publication TypeTechnical Report
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsJavernick-Will, A, Levitt, R
Date Published03/2009
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsCenter for Integrated Facility Engineering, CIFE, Coordination, Institutional Knowledge, Internationalization, Knowledge Mangaement, Organization Models, Organizational Learning, Planning, Stanford University
AbstractKnowledge regarding a local area's institutions, regulations, norms, and cultural-cognitive beliefs and meanings is recognized as being critically important for firms entering foreign countries. Acquiring and maintaining this knowledge can reduce the liabilities, costs and risks faced by firms when internationalizing especially developers, engineers and contractors engaged in global projects. However, the relative importance of different types of institutional knowledge, identification and analysis of external methods and sources for acquiring this knowledge, and recognition and analysis of processes that different types of firms use to integrate and share this kind of knowledge remain poorly understood. This research employed qualitative, case-based research methodology with 113 informants from fifteen international real estate development, construction and engineering firms in the Architecture-Engineering-Construction (AEC) industry to help address these issues. The research results are presented in three distinct papers that have been submitted for publication. The first paper identifies the types of local institutional knowledge that are important for firms engaged in international projects, categorizes these according to Scottís three pillars of institutions - regulative, normative, and cultural-cognitive - and analyzes differences according to firm types. The second paper explores and elaborates the sources firms use to acquire this knowledge when they enter a foreign market; it accounts for differences according to firm and knowledge type; and it develops propositions about why organizational learning approaches differ across types of firms. The third paper identifies knowledge sharing methods and processes used within firms to integrate and transfer institutional knowledge across the firm over time; and it discusses the benefits and limitations associated with the identified transfer processes. Overall, the research expands upon existing theory, contributing to a more comp e understanding of organizational learning and knowledge transfer for the institutional knowledge required on international projects. It also addresses a practical need for international AEC firms who want to understand where they should focus their efforts for acquiring, integrating and transferring the knowledge that is most important to their specific organizations and strategies. The long-range goal of this research, when combined with follow-on work, is to allow firms to capture and reuse global institutional knowledge more effectively, so they can develop economically, environmentally and socially sustainable practices for diverse local environments.
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