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Making sense of knowledge transfer and social capital generation for a Pacific island aid infrastructure project

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Purpose ? The purpose of this research is to investigate how lessons learned from a case study of a construction project undertaken in the Pacific Islands relates to the interaction between social capital and knowledge transfer. The paper is reflective in nature focusing upon the experiences of one of the authors, being a Pacific Islander and trying to make sense of the role of social capital and the way that it impacts upon knowledge transfer. Design/methodology/approach ? Three theoretical frameworks are drawn upon in a pilot test of tools used to better understand and measure knowledge transfer including barriers to knowledge transfer to help explain the difficulty of knowledge transfer in a given context and the development of social capital for a foreign aid project. These tools allowed us to visualise project stakeholder outcomes for knowledge transfer and building social capital that were articulated by the aid recipient as being highly important. This was a pilot study and results reported upon in this paper were fed back to stakeholder representatives concerned for their comment and validation. Project documentation data, unstructured ad hoc interviews, together with personal reflection-in-practice, were gathered and used for the study. Findings ? The approach was found to be very useful in helping stakeholders better visualise and measure this project outcome, whereas experience from previous similar projects indicated that it was very difficult for stakeholders to find a tangible way of measuring this important element of success or failure. Originality/value ? Many projects of the type exemplified by the case studies are funded by aid agencies. This paper makes a contribution by presenting an evaluation tool for intangible project outcomes. The findings may influence the design of project success measures.
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Keywords: Knowledge transfer; Learning; Organizations; Project management; Social capital; Vanuatu

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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