The role of the translator/interpreter in knowledge transfer environments
This paper reports on the results of a larger research project that investigated the factors impacting on inter-organisational transfer in the New Zealand State Sector. Seven gatekeepers (boundary-spanning individuals) from different organisations were interviewed about their experiences in facilitating knowledge transfer between a cross-sector working group and their organisation. The context for the research was the Pathfinder Project, a project based around the development and transfer of an emergent knowledge model for strategic management, Managing for Outcomes (MfO). A range of factors that facilitated knowledge transfer were identified. Among these, translation and interpretation activities were found to be critical to successful knowledge transfer. Gatekeepers reported acting as translator/interpreter, an essential role which demanded specialised skills. The nature of this role is outlined, with reference to a staged model for knowledge transfer that emerged from the research project. The translator/interpreter role required gatekeepers to engage in active and continuous conversion of knowledge to meet the differing needs of a range of recipients. This helped to increase the overall absorptive capacity of participating organisations. Implications of these findings for research and practice are outlined. © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.