Knowledge Transfer through Narratives in an Organization


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Virginia Tech


This dissertation looks at the role narratives play in addressing organizational challenges by facilitating a collective assignment of meaning to those challenges that allows for problem solving, or at least a way to cope with the challenges. Specifically, the research examines how informal knowledge is embedded in organizations in the form of narratives, and how narratives are used to transfer knowledge across the organization. The dissertation develops the concept of narrative, and the qualities of the narratives used in this dissertation, focused on events, focused on people, focused on values, and it develops an understanding of knowledge transfer as the collective assignment of meaning to challenges that are constantly emerging. In this case study, three means, or tools emerge as facilitating the assignment of meaning. These tools are superstars, indexing, and knowledge objects. This research will enrich the public administration and nonprofit literature by utilizing narrative inquiry to examine the transfer of knowledge in a nonprofit social service organization that serves a vital public purpose under contracts with various levels of government.



Storytelling, Collective Assignment of Meaning, Knowledge Transfer, Narrative Inquiry, Informal Knowledge