Knowledge and organizations

Organizations, technology, and communication form the backbone of most organizations and most interpersonal relationships, which are all tied to one another. Knowledge, in its bases, is information that we have gathered exchanged or instinctually know. Kang, Rhee and Kang (2010) studied how people transfer knowledge from one another. Boiled down to it’s basics, it seems to be common sense, as people (organizations) rely more on sources when they are unsure of knowledge, that they try to capture and explain knowledge which is difficult to explain and quantify, and that there are things that are beyond our explaining to others (though the explanation makes sense to us). These also apply to organizations and producing materials based on a person’s work for future archiving and transfers, as it often makes less sense to the person who comes into that position or uses the materials later. Argote and Ingram (2000) discuss how people in organizations interact with keeping “reservoirs” and the “transfer” of information from individuals within the organization. These scholars go looking for knowledge exchange through everyday tasks and practical learning, in a format that reminds me of Dervin’s “Sense Making”, in that they are trying to make sense of how people store and transfer knowledge from one another. It makes sense that people’s interactions with tools represent things such as lost information, struggle to understand new versions of technology, and how people gain knowledge within the organization exchanged through communication and through tools because interacting with technology that is designed by people who understand the form more than the ordinary person may be too close to the technology to realize how users see it. I was most interested in the portion which focused on tools, since it seems to focus on people exchanging information through tools less efficiently than they did in past, but it seems that people have always exchanged information through workplaces. Even though people do email and use electronic communication, people still have in person or phone conversations if knowledge is not transferring well.  In contrast, Wang and Lu (2010), study the interaction within organizations within times of crisis and handle it successfully, which follow patterns of both in-person and electronic communication though like Argote and Ingram, “documentation” is a part of this process to understand how crises and difficulties can be handled.  Powell and Snellman (2004) handle the last gap in the process of how people interact with information and others and technology to gain knowledge or to exchange it. It addresses the problems with ITC, from forms which work well early becoming the norm to problems that people have with adopting new technologies. Unlike the readings from my last post, this approach seems to incorporate a more positive view of the information society which we are coming to live in and will do so in the future.

While all of these discuss knowledge management, a few of these also discuss or hint to tacit knowledge. It seems like tacit knowledge is almost an itch we can’t scratch, it’s that bit on the tip of your tongue, the “I know this, I know this” and the confusion that comes from knowing something but not being able to figure out how or why one knows it. This can be complex to handle within an organizational setting, and while all of these authors address some of it, it seems as if this is a form of tacit knowledge as well.

Wang, Wei-Tsong, & Lu, Yu-Cheng. (2010). Knowledge transfer in response to organizational crises: An exploratory study. Expert Systems With Applications, 37(5), 3934-3942.

Argote, & Ingram. (2000). Knowledge Transfer: A Basis for Competitive Advantage in Firms. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 82(1), 150-169.

Powell, W., & Snellman, K. (2004). THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY. Annual Review of Sociology, 30, 199-220.

Kang, Jina, Rhee, Mooweon, & Kang, Ki H. (2010). Revisiting knowledge transfer: Effects of knowledge characteristics on organizational effort for knowledge transfer. Expert Systems With Applications, 37(12), 8155-8160.

5 thoughts on “Knowledge and organizations

  1. “Organizations, technology, and communication form the backbone of most organizations and most interpersonal relationships, which are all tied to one another.” I know it’s the first sentence of your post but it kinda blew me away. I never really thought about this concept yet it is absolutely true. I do wonder how organizations are a backbone of interpersonal relationships though. I can’t quite see it but I’m sure you have. Ideas?


    1. Our whole world is made up of communities of people that we interact with- for some people it’s clubs, churches, volunteer organizations, etc. It’s the groups that we choose to spend our free time with that make up much of our social network, and thus our knowledge exchange.

      Liked by 1 person

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