Organizational Knowledge

Organizational Knowledge

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8318-1.ch006


Organizational knowledge is a conceptual construct that reflects the convergence of all individual knowledge fields in an organization. That means all explicit and tacit knowledge fields, or changing the paradigm all cognitive, emotional, and spiritual individual fields of knowledge. The result of this integration process is performed in interactive and iterative modes by organizational integrators. Although there are many debates concerning the building up of organizational knowledge from the individual fields, the practice demonstrates that such a dynamic does exist and it encompass knowledge transfer processes from individuals to groups, and from groups to the whole organization. It is a synchronization between individual knowledge fields and the organizational knowledge along the ontological dimension. Organizational knowledge became a strategic resource in the last decades of business development and intelligent managers can transform it into a sustainable competitive advantage for the organization.
Chapter Preview


I think that understanding the concept of organizational knowledge is one of the most difficult tests for one who would like to enter the domain of knowledge management. Metaphorically, I am thinking at the explanation of strategy, the legendary Miyamoto Musashi had given to his students in martial arts about 400 years ago:

If you hope to understand my strategy you must study as many of the martial arts as you can and never veer from your chosen course. Your everyday practice, as it accumulates, will eventually reveal true no-thing-ness to you as the ‘spirit of the thing itself.’ When you have truly understood the universe in relation to your art and your art in relation to the universe, you will come to understand no-thing-ness. (Kaufman, 1994, pp.103-104)

Organizational knowledge is a conceptual construct that tries to identify one of the emergent characteristics of the knowledge intensive organizations. Like knowledge and knowledge management, organizational knowledge has been in organizations from their beginning, but its importance and role were rather latent. The new knowledge intensive organizations transformed organizational knowledge into a strategic resource, and knowledge management a potential way toward a sustainable competitive advantage. In this new world of intangibles, organizational knowledge becomes important not only for its strategic potential but also for thinking a new relationship between employee and organization as a result of synchronizing his knowledge field to the organizational knowledge field. Both the individual and organizational fields of knowledge are actually integrating in a dynamic way three basic fields: cognitive knowledge field, emotional knowledge field, and spiritual knowledge field. The integration energy comes from the organizational integrators, like management, leadership, and organizational culture. An organization may have valuable potential knowledge fields, but if the integrators don’t have enough power to transform that potential into high operational knowledge fields, then the organizational competitiveness will be very low. The triple helix of organizational knowledge goes beyond the iceberg metaphor of dealing only with tacit and explicit knowledge, as suggested by Polanyi (1983) and Ryle (2002), and developed further by Nonaka (1994), and Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995).

Organizational knowledge involves knowledge codification, as a process of making individual knowledge apt for sharing, dissemination, propagation, storage and retrieval, and embedding:

Knowledge codification serves the pivotal role of allowing what is collectively known to be shared and used. Knowledge held by a particular person enables that person to be more effective. If people interact to share their knowledge within a community of practice, then that practice becomes more effective. (Dalkir, 2005, p. 96)

Codification strategies are heavily based on technology and creating big data and information storages or repositories. Codification strategies are developed especially by knowledge intensive organization aiming at getting a high level of knowledge reuse. For instance, consultants in their consulting companies “will retrieve key pieces of knowledge from the assignment and create ‘knowledge objects’ to store valuable knowledge such as key industry information, market segmentation analyses, presentations, interview guides, programming documents and change management programs” (Jashapara, 2011, p. 105). Considering a continuum of strategies for developing organizational knowledge, Hansen, Nohria & Tierney (1999) show that managers developed at the other end of that continuum personalization strategies. These strategies are less about technology and more about people. They support knowledge sharing, and people dialogues in many of their manifestations. Codification and personalization strategies are intertwined with the managerial choices between exploitation and exploration of organizational knowledge. Investments in information technology and creating big data bases integrates codification strategies with the exploitation philosophy, while investing in people and rewording systems to encourage knowledge sharing and dissemination throughout the organization integrates personalization strategies with the exploration philosophy (Balconi, 2002; García-Muiña, Pelechano-Barahona & Navas-Lopez, 2009; March, 1991; Raish, Birkinshaw, Probst & Tushman, 2009).

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: