Organizational learning and communities-of-practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning, and innovation
Brown, J.S., and Duguid P.
This paper builds on ethnographic studies and reports in order to draw attention on the differences existing between the way people actually work and the way organizations describe that work. Manuals, training programs, job descriptions and organizational charts describe canonical work practices but as the ethnographic studies have shown people more than often face circumstances that these practices cannot be applied. Storytelling, collaboration and social construction are prescribed by non-canonical practices that people mobilize for confronting everyday situations in their work. All these being social mediated facilitate the formation of groups of people that according to researchers foster a non formal transfer of knowledge between participants. Within these small, self-constituting communities the non-canonical practices are continually developing new interpretations of the working environment leading to innovation in the form of altering the practice. Authors conclude that there is a gap between the assumptions and the beliefs of what working, learning and innovating seem to be and what actually are. In order to close that gap organization must look beyond canonical abstractions of practice and identify itself as community-of-communities. Also must legitimize and support the enacting activities perpetrated by its members. Authors overall objective was to show where constrains and resources lie in this research developing the argument that there must be a more closer, realistic and reflective linking of working, learning and innovating that was at the moment that this paper was published.
Bridging epistemologies: The generative dance between organizational knowledge and organizational knowing
Cook S.D.N., Brown J.S.
Authors’ main objective in this chapter was to broaden the existing understanding of what and how people know. They identify four categories of knowledge inherent in the explicit-tacit and individual-group distinctions arguing by the use of illustrative examples that each form of knowledge does work the others cannot; can often be used as an aid in acquiring the others; and no one of them can be derived from or changed into one of the others. They make clear the distinction between knowledge and knowing defining knowledge as something that is possessed such as rules, procedures, equations, etc. and the knowing as the epistemic work (i.e. the work that people must do in order to acquire what they need to know for doing what they do) that is done as part of action or of practice. The research related to knowing is enriched by these distinct kinds of knowledge, productive inquiry, dynamic affordance and the generative character of knowledge; notions that has been provided and described in the lines of this chapter by the authors. Using three cases (i.e. bread-making machine design, flute-making companies and Xerox blank paper handling) they make clearer some of the implications of their perspective. Concluding, authors suggest the need for further theoretical and empirical work in the form of cases studies of knowledge-creating organization, knowledge work and knowledge management.
A dynamic theory of organizational knowledge creation
The objective of this paper is to develop a theory dealing with the dynamic aspects of the organizational knowledge creation process. Basic concepts and models of organizational knowledge creation indicate that a continual dialog between tacit and explicit knowledge drives the creation of new ideas and concepts. Also, although information and knowledge are distinct notions the first is a necessary medium for initiating and formalizing the latter. To this end, information is conceptualized as a flow of messages while knowledge is created and organized by the very flow of information. While the prime movers in the knowledge creation are the individual members; there are three basic factors that induce the individual commitment in an organizational setting: (a) intention, which has to do with the fact that individuals form their approach to the world and try to make sense of their environment, (b) autonomy, as every individual within an organization may have different intentions and (c) fluctuation, as knowledge creation at the individual level involves continuous interaction with the external world. Author forms a “spiral” model bridging the epistemological and ontological dimensions of knowledge creation, identifying the existence of four patterns of interaction that represent ways in which existing knowledge can be converted in new knowledge. The knowledge is creating through these four conversion processes that is, from tacit to tacit (i.e. socialization), from tacit to explicit (i.e. externalization), from explicit to explicit (i.e. combination) and from explicit to tacit (i.e. internalization). Enlarging individual knowledge, sharing tacit knowledge, crystallization, justification and networking knowledge are the five organizational knowledge creation processes. Author proposed two management models namely, middle-up-down management and hypertext organization. Middle-up-down management is suitable for promoting the efficient creation of knowledge in business organization while the hypertext organization links related concepts and areas of knowledge allowing a problem to be viewed from many angles.