Handbook of Research on Knowledge Management
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Handbook of Research on Knowledge Management

Adaptation and Context

Edited by Anders Örtenblad

This innovative Handbook aims to examine whether there is a need to adapt and widen our understanding of knowledge management. A common definition of knowledge management is taken as the starting point for discussions on its relevance in various contexts, such as Buddhist organizations, law firms, the army and indigenous organizations. Moreover, the universality of Ikujiro Nonaka’s ideas on knowledge management is explored, and some alternative definitions are suggested. This book will appeal to academics and students of business and management, business administration, sociology and organizational behavior. Practitioners, managers and business-owners will also find this an invaluable resource.
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Chapter 8: Cross-cultural knowledge management in collaborative academic research

David Coldwell and Andrea Fried


Knowledge management as we frame it for this chapter is perceived as a bundle of structural initiatives to enable learning within and by organizations (Ackerman et al. 2003). It supports sharing of knowledge and is a ‘relational approach towards knowledge [that] places greater emphasis on the level of the group, the community, the network and the organization, than on the individual employee’ (Huysman and de Wit 2002, p. 4; see also Adair 2004). The relational approach to knowledge management is grounded in the idea that ‘the intelligence of a collective comes from individual contributions combined by people’s interactions’ (Perkins 2003, p. 246). These contributions and interactions yield effective decisions, solutions and plans (Perkins 2003) that are progressively kept track of (Adair 2004). Several concepts including ‘local ontology’ (Gergen 1995), organizations’ ‘cognitive systems and memories’ (Hedberg 1981), ‘mutual knowledge’ (Giddens 1979), ‘collective mind’ (Weick and Roberts 1993) or ‘collective knowledge’ (Spender 1994) understand organizational knowledge as cognitively embedded but shared among organizational members (Fried 2003). To be shared, knowledge needs to be enacted in organizational practices that are an ‘ongoing activity stream and emerges in the style with which activities are interrelated’ (Weick and Roberts 1993, p. 365). From a strategic point of view, shared organizational knowledge and practices constitute competitive advantages that can be pitted against the heterogeneous character of competitors.

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