Industrial marketing firms and knowledge transfer: Toward a basic typology of community structures

Susan M. Mudambi, Terence A. Oliva, Ellen F. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Industrial firm boundaries are dynamic, changing with every new alliance or acquisition. As boundaries evolve, managers must develop organizational structures that effectively leverage knowledge. This paper presents and explains the analytical foundation of a typology of community structures, featuring the basic structures of Crew, Séance, and Guru. This typology is applied to three examples of knowledge transfer in industrial marketing. A competence exploitation example examines knowledge transfer between a firm and a subsidiary established primarily for increasing existing product sales in a new market. A competence creation example examines the community structures for utilizing the product and market knowledge of a subsidiary to benefit the firm's new product development decisions. The final example examines the "tech vs. touch" tradeoffs in interpersonal communication and knowledge transfer. The back-to-basics typology of community structures helps stimulate strategic thinking, and facilitates future explorations of knowledge management in industrial marketing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Marketing


  • Community structure
  • Industrial marketing
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Networks


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