Information Systems Frontiers

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 343–361 | Cite as

Inter-organisational knowledge transfer in social networks: A definition of intermediate ties

  • Silke RetzerEmail author
  • Pak Yoong
  • Val Hooper


A social network perspective helps identify and analyse informal knowledge transfer among people and organisations with the aim to recommend organisational interventions and improvements, for example in the form of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) support. This paper particularly focuses on a key concept of social network analysis (SNA), the concept of tie strength, in an inter-organisational knowledge transfer context. Tie strength describes the strength of a social relationship. In the past, SNA literature with a knowledge management context has often emphasized the importance of strong and/or weak ties rather than of intermediate (medium strong) ties in a social network. Nevertheless, in this study, intermediate ties are identified as the dominant links among key groups of organisation in a social network. Intermediate ties also help connect otherwise weakly linked organisations. Moreover, a definition of intermediate ties in the context of knowledge management is introduced. With the help of cluster analysis and an investigation into the levels of reciprocity, intermediate ties can be clearly defined in a social network. Due to their importance for knowledge transfer in a social network, intermediate ties should be primarily supported, for example by appropriate ICT.


Knowledge transfer Social network analysis Tie strength Intermediate ties 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Information ManagementVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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