Building individual trust, tacit knowledge transfer, and Theory U: A phenomenological study

by Fisk, Neil, Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2015, 143 pages; 3689909


Organizational change is a constant in today's globally competitive economy forcing the need for adaptation and innovation. Change places stress on the individual within the organization to transfer tacit knowledge to others in order to drive innovation. A key element to tacit knowledge transfer for the individual is building trust. Research on knowledge transfer focuses more on organizational knowledge transfer than the individual. The phenomenological study focuses on the individual as he or she interacts within a cross-functional team in a multinational corporation (MNC). The research question focuses on how an individual, when placed in a cross-functional team on an MNC, develops trust such that tacit knowledge transfer may occur. In addition, this study looks at whether the individual would travel through any of the five movements described in Scharmer's Theory U. The study attempts to combine the concept of Theory U with those Nonaka presents on knowledge transfer through ba and the SECI process. This study interviews six participants using a three-interview series described by Seidman; where past experiences, current experiences, and reflections were each revealed in separate interviews with the same participants. Although, the sample population is small, the results of the study show that individuals travel down the left side of the U as they build trust with others and transfer tacit knowledge. At the bottom of the U, presencing occurs with participants and, as a collective cross-functional team, the team travels up the right side of the U emerging in a future, more innovative state. The results of the study suggest opportunities for future research in linking individual trust and tacit knowledge transfer with Theory U. The study also demonstrates the power of utilizing the three-interview series.

AdviserMarilyn E. Harris
Source TypeDissertation
Publication Number3689909

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