Knowledge Management and Innovation in Networks

Knowledge Management and Innovation in Networks

Edited by Ard-Pieter de Man

As an ever-increasing amount of innovation takes place within networks, companies are collaborating in developing and marketing new products, services and practices. This in turn requires knowledge to flow across company boundaries. This book demonstrates how companies encourage this knowledge to flow in networks that can involve dozens of partners. Substantiated by five in-depth case studies of innovative networks, the authors identify and analyse the solutions implemented by companies in order to meet the key knowledge management challenges they encounter. Theoretical and management implications of the study are then defined.

Chapter 3: Organizing Knowledge Sharing in Networks: The Theory

Elco van Burg, Hans Berends and Erik van Raaij

Subjects: business and management, knowledge management, organisational innovation, innovation and technology, knowledge management, organisational innovation


Elco van Burg, Hans Berends and Erik van Raaij INTRODUCTION Over the past decade, knowledge has become a central concept in the field of organization studies. Knowledge helps companies to outperform competitors (Winter, 1987). Knowledge can be compared with an accurate map. Having a map of the territory in which we want to travel gives us the coordinates of the places we want to go to and routes to get there. The map enables efficient travelling and avoids moving around by trial and error. Thus, knowledge about technology, customers, competitors and ways of organizing helps organizations to act efficiently and effectively. It is widely claimed that the importance of knowledge in our economies and societies is increasing (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995; Drucker, 1993). More and more people in developed countries perform knowledgeintensive work and knowledge is becoming more and more quickly outdated. Technologies, for example, develop at an increasing speed. This means that organizations can differentiate themselves from competitors through their knowledge and capabilities. It is especially the tacit component of capabilities that makes them a source of competitive advantage (Winter, 1987; Berman et al., 2002). Tacit knowledge is the knowledge that we use unconsciously when we take conscious actions or apply explicit knowledge (Polanyi, 1958). Tacit knowledge is difficult to transfer, observe or sell. Capabilities built on tacit knowledge are therefore hard to replicate by others. Competitive advantage based on collective and tacit capabilities has a higher chance of being sustainable. The recognition of...

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