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Keywords:

  • knowledge transfer;
  • collective knowledge;
  • complexity;
  • boundary spanners;
  • collective bridge;
  • organizational structures

This research introduces a framework for selecting efficient interunit structures in facilitating the transfer of knowledge with different levels of complexity. We argue that while the boundary spanner structure is efficient for transferring discrete knowledge, it is inadequate for transferring collectively held complex knowledge. We propose that the transfer of such knowledge requires a more decentralized interunit structure—collective bridge, which is a set of direct interunit ties connecting the members of the source and the recipient units, with the configuration of the interunit ties matching the complexity of knowledge to be transferred. We suggest that while a collective bridge is inefficient in transferring discrete knowledge relative to a boundary spanner structure, it is more efficient for transferring collective knowledge. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.