Rethinking knowledge management: Findings of the Bamberg study

In a constantly changing world of work, efficient knowledge transfer is becoming increasingly important when positions change. Our study, commissioned in collaboration with the University of Bamberg, shows how critical structured and digitally supported knowledge processes are for companies.

The results shed light on the key challenges in knowledge transfer and illustrate how companies can benefit from structured knowledge transfer processes.

Details of the study: Methodology and participants

The study examined the mechanisms of knowledge transfer during position changes in companies. The survey took place from spring to fall 2023 and included 171 employees from various companies. The aim was to shed light on the efficiency and structure of knowledge transfer processes during internal and external position changes from the employees’ perspective.

Selection of interviewees

The participants in the study were selected from different companies and sectors in order to cover a broad spectrum of experiences and perspectives. Both small and medium-sized companies and large corporations were represented. This diversity ensures that the results of the study paint a comprehensive picture of current practices and challenges in knowledge transfer.

Type of survey

The survey was carried out using detailed questionnaires. These questionnaires were designed to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. The participants were asked about their experiences and assessments of the knowledge transfer processes in their companies. Both structured and unstructured processes were analyzed to identify differences in efficiency and perceived benefits.

Focus of the survey

The study placed particular emphasis on capturing the perspectives of employees, as they are directly involved in knowledge transfer and can offer valuable insights into the practical challenges and potential. Questions on the use of digital tools, the efficiency of knowledge transfer processes and the main problems in knowledge transfer were examined in detail.

This methodical approach enabled the study to provide empirical data that underlines the need for structured and digitally supported knowledge processes.

Results of the study: Challenges and opportunities in knowledge management

The study by the University of Bamberg provided insightful results on current practices and challenges in knowledge transfer in companies. Here is an overview of the most important findings:

Unstructured knowledge transfer is widespread

A key finding of the study is that the majority of knowledge transfer processes in companies are unstructured. Less than 30% of respondents stated that their knowledge transfer was structured. This lack of structure applies to all company sizes and sectors, with large companies being particularly affected by internal changes.

Low use of digital processes

Although digital solutions could offer significant advantages, they are used in less than 30% of cases. A significant discrepancy of 82% of processes run without digital support. Employees see the avoidance of errors and an increase in their own productivity as the main advantages of digital processes.

Efficiency gains through structured knowledge transfer

Structured knowledge transfer processes are perceived as significantly more effective by employees. The study showed that knowledge transfer is seen as 35% more effective when it is structured, regardless of whether the change takes place internally or externally. Over 70% of changes require a structured knowledge transfer, with the benefit increasing with the size of the company.

Temporal differences in knowledge transfers

Another notable result is that knowledge transfers take an average of 12 days less for internal changes than when an external person joins the company. This underlines the urgency of implementing digital solutions, especially when onboarding new employees, in order to speed up the induction phase and knowledge transfer.

Challenges in knowledge management

The main problems with knowledge transfer were clearly identified: a lack of employees and a lack of time are the biggest obstacles. In addition, a lack of will and cooperation are greater challenges in the digital context than in the analog environment. These hurdles make the efficient and complete transfer of knowledge considerably more difficult.

Expectations towards digital solutions

Employees expect digital solutions to increase their productivity and reduce the effort involved in knowledge transfer. These high expectations indicate a high level of acceptance, particularly in companies that were previously limited due to budget restrictions or a lack of recording options.

The advantages of a structured knowledge transfer

The results of the study clearly show that structured knowledge transfer in companies offers far-reaching benefits. These advantages go beyond the mere acquisition of knowledge and contribute significantly to the efficiency and quality of day-to-day work.

Important advantages at a glance

  • Targeted transfer of knowledge: Both implicit and explicit knowledge is passed on in a clear and structured manner.
  • Relevant contacts: Important contacts and stakeholders are handed over seamlessly.
  • Clarity about pitfalls: New employees immediately know what to look out for.
  • Improved process knowledge: Existing processes are better understood and adhered to.
  • More efficient project work: Project knowledge is transferred in a complete and understandable way.
  • Adherence to timetables: training periods are better adhered to.

More efficiency and productivity

The study shows that employees perceive structured knowledge transfers as 35% more effective. New employees can be trained more quickly and work more productively as a result. Particularly in the case of external changes, where the induction phase often takes longer, a well-organized knowledge transfer can significantly shorten the time to full productivity.

Simple error prevention

The use of digital processes as part of a structured knowledge transfer contributes significantly to error prevention. The precise recording and transfer of knowledge minimizes misunderstandings and reduces the likelihood of errors. This not only leads to a higher quality of work, but also to greater employee satisfaction.

Better integration

A structured transfer of knowledge ensures the seamless integration of new employees. This includes handing over relevant contacts and stakeholders so that new employees know immediately who they can turn to. Potential stumbling blocks are also clearly identified, helping new employees to avoid typical rookie mistakes.

Long-term safeguarding of knowledge

Through systematic documentation and the use of digital solutions, knowledge is secured and made accessible in the long term. This is particularly important in times of high fluctuation so that the knowledge of a departing employee is not lost but remains available within the company.

High expectations of digital solutions

The study also shows that expectations of digital solutions in the area of knowledge transfer are high. Employees expect digital solutions to increase their productivity and reduce the effort involved in knowledge transfer. These high expectations indicate a high level of acceptance, particularly in companies with limited resources.

Advantages of digital solutions at a glance

  • Increased productivity: Digital tools enable more efficient induction and continuous training.
  • Time savings: Digital solutions reduce manual effort and accelerate knowledge transfer.
  • Appreciation: The use of modern technologies signals to employees that the company is investing in their development and work processes.
  • Crisis stability: In times of remote working and hybrid working models, digital solutions offer stability and continuity in knowledge transfer.
  • Cost reduction: In the long term, costs can be reduced through more efficient processes.

The high level of acceptance and the recognizable benefits make digital solutions an indispensable part of modern knowledge management strategies. Companies that use these technologies proactively can increase the efficiency and quality of their knowledge transfer processes and significantly improve their employees’ satisfaction and productivity.

Our approach at great2know: Efficient knowledge retention

This is where great2know comes in. Our digital platform structures knowledge transfer and uses advanced AI technologies to optimize the process. Through position-related knowledge transfers that include personalized questionnaires, we ensure that no relevant knowledge is lost. This not only enables more precise and efficient induction, but also long-term retention and utilization of existing knowledge.

Our platform offers the following advantages:

  • Position-related knowledge transfers: Secure implicit and explicit knowledge with the help of digital knowledge transfers to ensure the seamless transition and efficient induction of new employees.
  • Digital corporate memory: Over the long term, make secured knowledge accessible beyond knowledge transfer in a structured digital corporate memory.
  • Contextualized knowledge: Link backed-up knowledge together to gain more comprehensive insights and improve decision-making.

great2know thus offers a comprehensive solution to knowledge management challenges by making knowledge transfer more efficient, precise and user-friendly. Our platform ensures that companies make optimum use of their knowledge resources and are, therefore, more successful in the long term.

Conclusion: How study results point the way to better solutions

The study conducted by the University of Bamberg impressively confirms that unstructured knowledge transfer is a widespread problem in companies. Regardless of a company’s size and sector, the lack of systematic processes leads to considerable efficiency losses and increased risks during position changes.

The study’s results underline the urgency of implementing structured and digitally supported knowledge transfer processes. Companies that proactively tackle these challenges can not only shorten the induction period for new employees but also improve the quality and continuity of knowledge management. Employees’ high expectations of digital solutions highlight the potential of these technologies to make knowledge transfer more effective and error-free.

The clear advantages of structured knowledge transfer—from the targeted transfer of implicit and explicit knowledge to the better integration of new employees—are unmistakable. The study, therefore, provides valuable insights that can serve as a basis for the further development and improvement of knowledge management processes.

Companies that rely on structured and digital solutions are better equipped to meet the challenges of the modern working world and can optimum use their knowledge resources.

about the author
Lenita Behncke
Lenita writes articles for great2know as a content creator on topics such as knowledge transfer & knowledge management.