Knowledge transfer and boundary conditions: A study of SMEs in business incubation centers in China

Juana Du, Rong Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine innovative practices and emphasize the mechanism of knowledge transfer across knowledge boundaries. By comparing and discussing the emerging boundary issues in knowledge transfer among small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) registered in the incubation centers in China, this paper identified the main knowledge transfer approach and several contextual and organizational factors impacting knowledge transfer. Design/methodology/approach: The authors conduct 39 semi-structured in-depth interviews with employees working within business incubation centers in China. The study uses thematic analysis for data analysis. Findings: Our results contribute to the literature of knowledge transfer and in particular to our understanding of boundary conditions and knowledge transfer approaches in emerging economies. The results also highlight several contextual and organizational factors which impact knowledge transformation across the pragmatic boundary in the context of China. Practical implications: First, organizations need to establish an effective process with tools to accommodate novelty; second, organizations should be aware of the impact of entrepreneurial orientation on innovative performance; and third, it will help organizations if they adopt and integrate information-rich media in managing innovative practices. Originality/value: This research highlights the impact of contextual and organizational factors of SMEs on knowledge transfer in emerging markets and chooses incubation centers as study subjects, which is an organizational context that has not been thoroughly studied due to its unique nature and emerging complexity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-57
Number of pages27
JournalNew England Journal of Entrepreneurship
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 18 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Juana Du and Rong Wang.


  • China
  • Entrepreneurial orientation
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Pragmatic boundary
  • Rich media
  • SMEs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Accounting
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Administration


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