This study examines the relationship between the structure of professional networks and patterns of inter-professional knowledge transfer in the healthcare setting. Collecting survey data and qualitative evidence from 118 professionals in a hospital department, we used theory on the sociology of professions and social networks to investigate patterns of knowledge transfer between doctors and nurses. First we found that members of different professions tend to be embedded in distinctive professional cliques, which in turn inhibit effective inter-professional knowledge transfer. Network structure, however, combines with individual characteristics in predicting knowledge transfer patterns. By occupying central positions in closely knit networks, clinical directors can facilitate knowledge transfer patterns between doctors and nurses. And actors who are legitimated both intra-professionally and inter-professionally to occupy brokerage positions in social networks, namely junior doctors and nurse managers, are more likely to gain access to non-redundant, valuable knowledge. The overall picture is one of network structure interplaying with the characteristics of individual actors in shaping the dynamics of professional interactions.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
Organization Studies
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

Tasselli, S. (2015). Social Networks and Inter-professional Knowledge Transfer: The Case of Healthcare Professionals. Organization Studies, 36(7), 841–872. doi:10.1177/0170840614556917