Edited by David Rooney, Greg Hearn and Abraham Ninan
Chapter 16: Knowledge and Social Identity
Thomas Keenan Introduction If we accept that post-industrial economics is knowledge-based and that effective knowledge management is a necessary (though not sufficient) condition for the survival of modern organizations, then it is essential that we have as complete an understanding as possible of the nature of knowledge creation and diffusion in organizations. To do this, we must have a sophisticated and wellconsidered sense of what knowledge is and how it comes to be. This is not necessarily an easy task; in fact, the nature of knowledge has been the subject of considerable debate for millennia (Welbourne 2001). What is emerging in modern research about the nature of knowledge is an appreciation of its relational aspects. Individuals do not create knowledge in isolation. Rather, knowledge emerges out of the complex webs of relationships that individuals form throughout their lifetimes, including relationships with other individuals, with animate and inanimate objects, and with ideas themselves (Rooney et al. 2003; Stacey 2001). The growing interest in the relational nature of knowledge is opening up new avenues for knowledge research. For organizational researchers, the relational conceptualization of knowledge suggests that there are issues in terms of sociology, social psychology and organizational behaviour that must be considered if the way in which knowledge is created and diffused effectively is to be understood fully. In this chapter I focus on social identity (i.e. that part of our self-concept that is derived from the social groups to which we perceive we belong (Vaughan and Hogg 2002)) and the...
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