Know-How - The Process of Knowledge Creation in Organizations

It seems everyone is ready to jump onto the knowledge management bandwagon these days in the hope that it will be a successful tool for his or her business. But Professors David Midgley, Timothy Devinney and Christine Soo say it takes careful coordination and awareness to develop know-how in an organization. Read on as they explain the specifics of the comprehensive knowledge creation “chain.”

by David Midgley
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

Knowledge has long been recognized as a critical component of organizational success. As such there is a strong desire to “manage” it, especially when companies are faced with a fast changing market environment that requires rapid recombination of information from an array of information sources.

But how do you manage something that is invisible and immeasurable? In the past, many studies on the topic mainly focused on specific aspects of the overall knowledge creation process (such as interorganizational knowledge transfer, knowledge flows within the firm and the interplay of tacit and explicit knowledge). As a result, our understanding of knowledge creation is somewhat fragmented. It is limited to certain aspects rather than understanding the process in its entirety.

This working paper, authored by INSEAD Professor David Midgley, Professor Timothy Devinney (from the Australian Graduate School of Management, University of New South Wales) and Professor Christine Soo (Faculty of Business, University of Technology, Sydney), is a comprehensive analysis of the knowledge creation “chain,” incorporating both environmental and organizational factors that play a role in the overall process. Their study draws upon perspectives from the network, organizational learning, dynamic capabilities and innovation literatures, and they present a model of how it all works which incorporates four main components.

They write that knowledge creation is a chain of events: information must be acquired, then integrated with previously-held information, then utilized to solve problems or develop new products – and that’s when it becomes knowledge. Also, the authors explain that knowledge should be “free to travel” as opposed to being confined to certain places and people in an organization. And its use will be maximized in an environment where it can flow, mix, be exchanged and be applied. Thus, managers must accept the task of creating and maintaining the right conditions for this to happen.

INSEAD 2002

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