Unravelling Hurdles to Organizational Sustainability by Virtue of Sharing and Creating Knowledge

Unravelling Hurdles to Organizational Sustainability by Virtue of Sharing and Creating Knowledge

Ana Martins (University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa), Orlando Pereira (University of Minho, Portugal) and Isabel Martins (University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6980-0.ch003


The main aim of this chapter is to demonstrate the importance of innovation and creativity in nurturing organizational sustainability. Through knowledge and its sharing, the leadership process is oxygenated with human and holistic values in contemporary organizations. This chapter seeks to emphasize distinct characteristics in the leader and values in the leadership process needed in the present knowledge-based economy which is merciless towards cognitive and human stasis. Creating and sharing knowledge are considered the fundamental drivers of organizational performance. Furthermore, knowledge is also viewed as one of the most important resources for the survival of organizations and their prosperity. The aim of this chapter highlights why organizations require to encourage innovation and creativity. This chapter will seek to highlight its main objectives i.e., debating the role that humanizing leadership fulfils in organizations that are desperately in need to revitalize human characteristics, values, and behaviors amidst all the technology.
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In the last few decades, the business world and more specifically the way organizations behave, has changed dramatically. The main changes are related to technological progress, internationalization of the economy, as well as demassification and accessibility of markets (Moreira, 2011). All of these changes are aligned with innovation processes which are considered the source of sustainable competitive advantage. However, competitive advantage is also based on the challenges that urge organizations to be agile in order to maximize their operational efficiency (Appelbaum, Calla, Desautels, & Hasan, 2017). This organizational agility is directly dependent on the need for dynamic competencies in order for organizations to successfully compete and anticipate change. This organizational agility feeds on continuous training, acquisition of new skills for both people to manage adversity and be multi-skilled. It is a way to respond quickly and efficiently to market challenges. However, innovation is directly dependent on the pool of knowledge within the organization, approaches in which knowledge is communicated and disseminated, internal capabilities, experience, as well as methods of how tacit knowledge is transmitted and applied within the organization. Innovation is an undeniable source of competitive advantage (Tushman & Nadler, 1986), although it is not a straightforward process (Cheng & Van de Ven, 1996). These authors are cognizant that teams face chaotic periods in the early stages of innovation development processes, this chaos tends to diminish towards the final product development stage There are exogenous factors adjacent to the innovation process that may condition its implementation and/or development. For this reason, these authors (Cheng & Van de Ven, 1996) maintain that chaos enables the economic agent to become aware that the innovation process is not a straightforward system, it is messy and unpredictable, a reality that shows organizational learning through a non-linear prism and unstable conditions. This approach highlights both the internal and external sources of innovation (Drucker, 1985). In this process, human resources are a source of sustainable competitive advantage (Porter, 1985; Barney, 1991; Rasheed & Shahzad, 2017). Elmquist (2008) also places special emphasis on productive efficiency and innovation. However, at times there are errors and stalemates when companies assume that innovation can disrupt their technological base. This reality demonstrates some ignorance and illiteracy about innovation within organizations and their sources of sustenance. Therefore, organizational illiteracy is spread upon its culture, the typology of knowledge and its management, as well as to the typologies of knowledge creation within the organization. Nevertheless, within such an environment, one might ask the following, what is the social and organizational architecture of the new century? Is this architecture identical to that of the recent past, with competitive advantages not based on technology and knowledge?

These questions refocus the discussion about performance, organizational sustainability and its objectives, seeing that, in the 21st century, the organization should be at the service of humanity to create synergistic relationship value. Here, cooperation is an element of high importance because it applies and creates knowledge and manages innovation processes. Moreover, when such cooperation is accompanied by trust and transparency, a sharing environment is created, which capitalizes and multiplies the value of output, with direct impact on the marginal tendency to innovate.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Creativity: A human skill that qualifies individuals’ inimitability as compared to the robotic nature of technology and automation.

Leadership: Humanistic practice of managing and leading organizations that is in tune with the volatility and equivocality of a world filled with ever-changing traditions. This leadership practice nurtures organizational performance by energising social capital among individuals through trust, commitment, unity, access to resources and information as well as learning to share and create knowledge.

Innovation: Directly dependent on the pool of knowledge within the organization. Innovation depends on internal capabilities, experience, how tacit knowledge is transmitted and applied in the organization. Employee loyalty depends on the degree of freedom employees perceive and impacts the organization, performance and productivity. Innovation is an irrefutable source of competitive advantage, the DNA of the organization. Continuous and conscious learning in the market is one of the conditions to be taken into account in order to leverage innovation processes.

Self-Efficacy: The individual’s awareness of confidence in competency and skills set to complete relevant duties. This awareness further allows the individual to achieve high levels of flexibility, autonomy thus enabling creativity and innovation to flourish.

Culture: Values, beliefs that nurture trust, communication among all individuals in the organization and motivate employees. Leaders also play a role in developing these norms in order to create and sustain a learning context wherein skills development is fundamental.

Technology: Mechanisms that support knowledge sharing, that enable the individual to improve skills, competencies, expertise and know-how. Ground-breaking means that have radically transformed organizations in the 21 st century.

Learning: The capacity of an individual and an organization to explore new challenges and contexts. It is an opportunity to unlearn which is a dynamic way of learning. It is through unlearning that people shape their brain, to readjust and continue learning. It is essential condition for transformation, creativity and innovation.

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