Knowledge Strategy: Its Mitigating Effects on the Organization

Knowledge Strategy: Its Mitigating Effects on the Organization

Joseph E. Kasten (Dowling College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jsita.2012010101
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Abstract

Knowledge strategy is defined as the set of guidelines and philosophies that guide an organization’s knowledge-based activities, such as knowledge gathering, development, storage, and utilization. Much of the early literature describing knowledge strategy suggests that its role in the organization is to drive, and be driven by, organizational structure and the human resources and technology strategies. This paper derives a model that places the firm’s knowledge strategy as a mitigating factor between the decisions made by management and the manner in which they are communicated to the rest of the organization. The present research is an update to a previously published paper and extends the research that first generated the metaphor of the KS as a lens.
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Literature Review

After briefly discussing some of the foundational literature in the field of KS, the literature utilized to construct the initial research model forms the majority of the literature review. Both theoretical and empirical literature has been included as the basis of the model.

Some of the earliest writings regarding the strategic use of knowledge come from the business strategy development literature. Feurer, Chaharbarghi, and Distel (1995) wrote about the part played by knowledge in the implementation of business strategy. Their research stresses the importance of matching the type of knowledge maintained in the firm with its proper level in the firm. Zack (1999) explicitly defines KS as “balancing knowledge-based resources and capabilities to the knowledge required for providing products or services in ways superior to those of competitors.” This definition directly links the knowledge characteristics of the organization with performance and competitive advantage. Bierly (1999) takes a similar approach to KS when he defines four basic drivers involved in the creation of a KS: internally vs. externally sourced knowledge, enhanced vs. new knowledge, fast vs. slow speed of learning, and depth vs. breadth of knowledge base. These seminal papers provide the groundwork for the research that follows.

There is a significant amount of literature describing the organizational drivers that help to shape KS. One important driver of a firm’s KS is the environment within which it operates (Buckley & Carter, 2004). These variables might include the type of product or service the firm produces, the level of turbulence or instability in the industry, and the degree of fusion that exists between the industry and those that complement it (Bierly & Chakrabarti, 2001). A good understanding of the environment will then influence how and where knowledge is developed (internal vs. external, broad vs. narrow, etc.).

The external environment will also direct the development of business strategy, which in turn will define the KS (Ursic et al., 2006). There is a significant literature describing the importance of linking business strategy with knowledge strategy and how the business strategy should be the main determinant of KS (Bierly & Chakrabarti 2001; Nickerson & Silverman 1998). Southon, Todd, and Seneque (2002) describe how the KS is influenced by the board of directors while Lane and Probert (2007) analyze the effects of internal and external knowledge acquisition on firm performance.

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