Contemporary literature usually views knowledge creation and knowledge sharing as either independent or positively related processes. However, based on the review of the literature on the organizational conditions aimed to support these processes, the author challenges this view at the individual level of analysis and suggests that an individual employee can hardly simultaneously combine features that support both knowledge creation and knowledge sharing and thus can hardly be efficient in both processes at the same time. The data from the survey of 120 employees from 5 knowledge-intensive companies supported this idea, and the author discusses its implications for further research and for management practice in knowledge-intensive organizations.
Contemporary management theory views knowledge as one of the key sources for the creation and maintenance of a sustainable competitive advantage in a post-industrial economy (Kogut & Zander, 1992; Grant, 1996; Teece, 2004). Consequently, the tasks of managing various knowledge-related processes in an organization are brought to the forefront. Two knowledge-related processes — knowledge creation (Nonaka, 1991) and knowledge sharing (Husted & Michailova, 2002) — dominate the literature on the issue.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Ambidexterity: Organizational characteristic, that defines that companies that know how to successfully combine both exploration and exploitation (related term - ambidextrous organization).
Exploration: An organizational strategy focused on creating value through searching for new knowledge and opportunities.
Exploitation: An organizational strategy concentrated on utilization of existing knowledge and opportunities.
Knowledge Sharing: The process of moving existing knowledge between different agents (either within organization or beyond its borders). It implies dissemination of knowledge by a knowledge “sender” without any specification of a knowledge “receiver’s” reaction to this act.
Knowledge Creation: The process of development of new knowledge.
Knowledge Transfer: Type of knowledge sharing, in which a receiver at least absorbed “sent” knowledge and probably even acted somehow upon it.
Knowledge-Intensive Organization: A firm whose main activity is based on the employment of knowledge.
Innovation: Refers either or both -to the process of development of new knowledge or results of this process.
Knowledge Exchange: Type of knowledge sharing, characterized by some reciprocity of actions, implying that knowledge (or something else in exchange for knowledge) has been moved each way within the same pair of actors.
Knowledge Replication: Type of knowledge transfer, in which a receiver acts upon “sent” knowledge by trying to “copy” a sender’s experience. It refers to the usage of something that existed before in a particular company.