Modern society is increasingly seen as a knowledge economy; institutions, firms and individuals progressively rely on knowledge as a key component for individual and collective growth. This calls for a clear understanding of knowledge and its sharing patterns. This article has a two-fold aim: on the one hand, it aims at reviewing some of the most common definitions of knowledge provided in the economic and science and technology literature; on the other hand, it aims at providing a taxonomy of knowledge flows which should help scholars in distinguishing among various forms of knowledge sharing. Subsequently, we shall present a description of future trends and put forward some possible extensions of knowledge literature. Finally, our concluding remarks will be presented in the last section of the article.
The growing information flow which characterises the so-called “information society” has made organisations increasingly concerned with the problem of selecting and organising information in a cost-efficient manner. However, it would be incorrect to refer to the learning activity simply as the accumulation of information. In fact, firms are increasingly concerned with the acquisition of knowledge which, as recognised by many scholars (see among many others: Foray, 2004; Steinmueller, 2002), differs substantially from information.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Tacit Knowledge: Knowledge that is embedded in the mind of the person who has acquired it.
Knowledge Integration: A process which combines dispersed bits of knowledge held by individuals to be applied in a coordinated way.
Taxonomy of Knowledge Flows: A conceptual model which attempts to distinguish among various forms of knowledge sharing.
Knowledge Gain: A process of knowledge flow which involves deliberate barter among subjects.
Codified Knowledge: Knowledge that has converged upon common concepts and usages such that it can be transferred more easily.