Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the knowledge transfer processes of knowledge intensive business service firms by focusing on the knowledge for customer, which is the knowledge about the service provider's products and services, specifically "before-sale" knowledge, and the transfer of this knowledge in order to develop customers. Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted an in-depth qualitative study of the knowledge transfer process undertaken by a sample of six global knowledge intensive service firms, to use knowledge transfer as a means of customer development. Findings: The results of this study suggest that customer absorptive capacity influences the role that knowledge for customers has in ultimately determining whether customer development will occur. Where tacit knowledge transfer occurs, it is restricted to loyal, high share customers. With respect to methods of transfer, the findings reveal that knowledge-intensive business service firms transferring explicit knowledge utilise both formal and informal methods. Research limitations/implications: Data collection was cross-sectional and longitudinal research would have the benefit of examining how customer knowledge transfer changes over time during the customer development process (pre-sale, during sale and post-sale customer development). Future research studying other types of knowledge transfer, such as during-sale and after-sale knowledge transfer, are also encouraged. Practical implications: Managers should be open to employing numerous types of media in transferring both explicit and tacit knowledge rather than restricting themselves to the normative "explicit-formal-media lean" versus "tacit-informal-media rich" categorisations in the literature. Originality/value: Understanding the role of customer knowledge transfer in the development of existing organisational customers is particularly important in the context of knowledge intensive business service firms. The extant literature recognises that customer development efforts are critically important in increasing service adoption and firm performance but there exists a dearth of research on customer knowledge transfer in the context of professional service organisations.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Case studies, Consumer behaviour, Knowledge management, Knowledge transfer, Service industries
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1108/02634501311324889
Journal Marketing Intelligence and Planning
Citation
Daghfous, A. (Abdelkader), Ashill, N.J. (Nicholas Jeremy), & Rod, M. (2013). Transferring knowledge for organisational customers by knowledge intensive business service marketing firms: An exploratory study. Marketing Intelligence and Planning, 31(4), 421–442. doi:10.1108/02634501311324889