DOI: 10.1287/serv.2021.0052 ISSN: 2164-3962

Cross-Site and Cross-Generation Knowledge Transfer in High-Tech After-Sales Service

F. S. Zijlstra, A. A. Alblas, F. Langerak
  • Marketing
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Business and International Management

Learning and knowledge transfer are crucial to organizational success. Knowledge can transfer between sites and generations, yet prior research has studied both types of knowledge transfer in isolation. Understanding their combined effect is essential because many manufacturing and service organizations have multiple sites and generations. In contrast to prior research, we study both types of knowledge transfer simultaneously in a high-tech after-sales service organization. In doing so, we provide new insights into the learning processes of high-tech firms providing global after-service. We leverage 10 years of weekly observations of after-sales service experience and performance of a firm in the semiconductor industry to test learning curve models with cross-site and cross-generation knowledge transfer and temporal distance between generations. Our empirical model tests the impact of these different sources of experience on the downtime performance of five machine generations serviced by 30 globally distributed service sites. We find knowledge transfer across sites and generations, except for cross-site knowledge transfer from newer to older generations. That is, the introduction of new products disturbs the cross-site learning process of older products. Furthermore, cross-generation knowledge transfer is conditional to the temporal distance between product generations. Knowledge transfer decreases when the temporal distance increases.

Funding: This research was funded by the high-tech company that facilitated this study.

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