Edited by Ard-Pieter de Man
Chapter 3: Organizing Knowledge Sharing in Networks: The Theory
3. Organizing knowledge sharing in networks: the theory 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and more people in developed countries perform knowledgeintensive work and knowledge is becoming more and more quickly outdated.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...
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