Expert Knowledge in the University-Industry Cooperation: The Cases of Germany and Russia

Expert Knowledge in the University-Industry Cooperation: The Cases of Germany and Russia

Oxana Karnaukhova (Southern Federal University, Russia) and Oliver Hinkelbein (University of Bremen, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2897-5.ch010
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Abstract

The idea of the chapter is to make a cross-cultural analysis of the various knowledge management processes, with the aim of identifying advantages and disadvantages, perspectives and obstacles for knowledge management (KM) within the boundaries between university and industry. KM strategies revealed the importance of institutionalization and legitimation processes of practitioners' knowledge. In the contemporary networking world with blurring boundaries between professional and non-professional knowledge the position of expert is changing. It immediately influences knowledge flows between university and industry. The chapter will provide a comparative analysis of two KM cases in the field of university-industry relations – Germany and Russia with emphasis on difficulties and advantages of KM implementation for enhancing decision-making process on both sides; evolving stakeholders to participate in activities, building efficient societal capabilities and developing knowledge-based communities.
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Introduction

There are some critical remarks on the matter of the role and functioning of expert knowledge in the university-industry cooperation. The first one concerns the idea of so-called expert knowledge, or ‘expert systems’ – as well as it affects the expert term itself. As Anthony Giddens suggested, in the contemporary networking world with blurring boundaries between professional and non-professional knowledge the position of expert is changing. It immediately influences knowledge flows between university and industry. ‘Though we may think we consult specific experts irregularly, many aspects of our lives are influenced by them, because you cannot know about all the things that you must trust in, e.g. engineering systems, airplanes, internet security, surgeons/therapists, financial controllers – when we can’t deal with people personally we must trust systems, protocols & security measures; has there recently been a questioning of experts in some fields?’ (Giddens, 1990). The critical point of this kind of definitions is that ‘the expert’ is considered very narrow and grouped around special technical skills. With the result that knowledge itself is conceptualized very technocratic. From an anthropological perspective an expert is defined “as an actor who has developed skills in, semiotic-epistemic competence for, and attentional concern with, some sphere of practical activity“ (Boyer, 2008, p. 39). Taking into account ‘practical activity’ opens the opportunity to investigate knowledge management (KM) in a more complex way. This is an absolutely necessary aspect when such different ‘cultures’ as universities and industries are compared.

The second remark concerns digitalization and networking as core mottos and practices in knowledge management today. The digital expertise can prompt new reading of the guiding media (such as written culture), and is reconfigured in new techniques. Intrusions and intervention into the mainstream corpus of interpretations and discourses takes the form of critical approach, revealing dimensions of the knowledge concealed in the fact of its creation. In this case virtual expert spaces are the places of circulating online narratives, which imply a specific form of knowledge via certain channels. Considering these new forms of knowledge and practices implies ‘new mediators’ (Hinkelbein, 2014) who are able to manage knowledge in contemporary networked and mediated cultures. So the aim of our chapter is to compare role and shape of these actors in KM strategies in Russia and Germany.

Finally, knowledge is not about direct information circulation. Culture takes the role of moderator in effective and smooth knowledge share. It is clear that at the organization level knowledge management system has to match culture through diverse approaches: solving day-to-day business problems, adopting a knowledge parcel to pre-existing cultural patterns, reformulating KM initiatives in line with culturally specific communication style, creating a KM system on the existing networks of people, building institutional environment welcoming KM hierarchy. Also a fundamental change in knowledge flow – from very hierarchical to a more rhizomatic movement of knowledge – has to be taken into account in KM (strategies).

The chapter will provide a comparative analysis of two KM cases in the field of university-industry relations – Germany and Russia with emphasis on difficulties and advantages of KM implementation for enhancing decision-making process on both sides; evolving stakeholders to participate in activities, building efficient societal capabilities and developing knowledge-based communities.

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