A Senior Research Fellow with Griffith University’s Department of International Business and Asian Studies, Dr Stephanie Schleimer was recently welcomed to the WOW constituency. We spent five minutes with her to learn a little more of her research activities….
In what area/s do your current research interests lie?
Although applied in many different contexts, in a nutshell it is all about optimising the a) creation, b) transfer and c) absorption of complex knowledge within and between organisations’ boundaries. This may include, but is not limited to, the knowledge involved in practices such as marketing strategies or new product and service development and delivery, and incorporates both the sending and receiving of knowledge within the organisation, e.g. at team-, department, subsidiary-level, and between other organisations, e.g. through strategic alliances, or with suppliers, buyers and customers.
Are there emerging or ongoing trends in your field/s of research?
All are consistently evolving. Perhaps the most interesting is the realisation that all three research streams must be fused. Put differently, although traditionally scholars treated knowledge creation, transfer, and absorption as complementary yet distinguished research streams, emerging studies point to the need to study these processes/ mechanisms in combination with one another in order to truly understand how we best gain, share, and utilise knowledge within and across organisations’boundaries.
Have there been major developments in the field/s or key findings that have directed the trajectory of the research?
Since its inception, absorptive capacity is one of the most researched phenomena in the organisational literature and yet it remains one of the least understood (predominately due to the unknown processes and mechanisms needed for optimal absorption).New developments do suggest though interesting ways to overcome the treatment of this important conceptual organisational phenomenon as tangible. I have, in response, directed some of my key research endeavours/ publications in the last two years down this path, rejuvenating it and fusing related research findings with those on knowledge creation- and transfer- capabilities.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am involved in several interesting research projects with some amazing collaborators. Whilst both are especially close to my heart, my favourite ‘pet’ project is run as part of the Danish ‘MADE Platform for Future Production‘, a multi-million dollar academic-industrial collaboration that was established in 2014 for the development of new, efficient and enhanced types of manufacturing that will strengthen the manufacturing industry and increase competitiveness. I lead a project that focuses on how inter-firm and intra-firm processes and mechanisms can jointly increase the capacity to transfer, absorb, and ultimately utilise new knowledge at the managerial, team, and organisational level for enhanced long-term manufacturing capabilities.
The second project is in collaboration with several European research centres who have committed to collect reliable, comprehensive and compatible data on the modernisation of manufacturing at a European and OECD levels. As part of this wider long-term initiative, I am involved in research that aims at better understanding the nature of specific organisational and technological knowledge-creating, and then sharing, capabilities as they focus on what is needed to optimise the transfer from sender to receiver. Commonly inter-related, both activities often appear in sets of practices e.g. within day-to-day operations and/ or future-focussed business- and corporate-strategies. We are specifically focussing on their complementary role for long-term innovative and organisational performance.
Both of these projects are currently run in the European context and I will extend them to Australia in 2015/2016.
Are there challenges in your field in bridging the gap between research, practice and policy?
I believe that for the literatures on knowledge creation, transfer, and absorption, theory, policy and practice are highly inter-related. Only through validation (which occurs when organisational concepts and theories are applied) and generalisation (which uses meaningful samples that statistically represent populations), does knowledge-related organisational theory become truly meaningful for practitioners and policy-makers. Similarly, organisational decision-makers and policy-makers need innovative theoretical frameworks and models in order to benchmark and optimise their knowledge creating-, transferring-, and absorbing capabilities.