Co-operation and Outsourcing in the Global Economy
New Perspectives on the Modern Corporation series
Edited by Mario Morroni
Chapter 6: Organization of Firms, Knowing Communities and Limits of Networks in a Knowledge-Intensive Context
6. Organization of ﬁrms, knowing communities and limits of networks in a knowledge-intensive context Patrick Cohendet and Patrick Llerena INTRODUCTION 6.1 This contribution addresses the issues of organization and competitiveness of ﬁrms in a knowledge-intensive context. A knowledge-intensive context refers to an industrial context where the competitive pressure requires the integration of diﬀerent bodies of specialized knowledge and the production of an ever increasing diversity. These conditions are met in some traditional sectors, such as automobile or aeronautics, but also in creative industries, such as ﬁlm making, video games or fashion companies. The main challenge which arises in this context is the emergence of new organizational forms, allowing for both diversity creation and economic eﬃciency. Networks of ﬁrms seem to be an overwhelmingly accepted organizational solution. They allow the combination of a variety of competences and access to specialized and demand-speciﬁc knowledge. However networks have limits and have some impact on the view and role of ﬁrms. The main purpose of this chapter is precisely to clarify the nature of those limits and their origins. We shall, in fact, argue that the viability of a variety-based industrial organization cannot rely on ‘simple’ networks of ﬁrms, but mainly should instead rely on the existence of more complex, interactive networks, associating formal structures, such as ﬁrms, and informal structures, such as elementary sources of specialized knowledge: the knowing communities. These latter are the loci of the creation of new specialized knowledge and a means to take into account the...
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