The Good Old Fashioned Way?

Hansen (1999) discussed how different firms use a variety of knowledge management techniques to push their companies boundaries further and to become successful. Innovation was talked about, as well as the idea of having to be “cutting edge” (Hansen, 1999). It seems like survival in the business world comes down to buzzwords for creativity. It also is interesting that HP relied on using “person-to-person” communication, which seems to boil down to old fashioned word of mouth communication like Nonaka (1999) discussed. It’s interesting that one of the most effective methods of exchanging knowledge is such an old fashioned one, like stories or legends, like Kamryn discussed in this week’s post about the “Once and Future Information Society”.

Goggins and Mascaro (2013) discuss rural IT firms knowledge exchange, and it seems unsurprising that the relationships forged that were considered “going native” are the ones who people talked to directly the most. While electronic communication is great, it can be hard to understand the nuances of communication on skype or chats, because of technical issues, bad lighting, poor sound, or not being able to read the other person’s’ expression. However, people’s work does tend to seep into their most direct social circles, which are usually friends and family who the person would communicate with on a daily basis, so it makes sense that professions would run in families because of the amount of tacit knowledge that could be passed on through conversation.

Brown and Dugid (1991) discuss in-person communications between technology workers. Conversation seems to be a reoccurring theme, this week. Perhaps there is part of most people’s process of working through problems, that talking with someone tends to help. There are prescribed patterns that we turn to, especially with technology, such as using a search engine first or turning a device off and then on again to fix a problem. When these don’t work, we then seek out what we know first, which is exactly what the folks that Orr and Brown and Dugid (1991) discuss. It’s the idea again, that our lives become a story through the many tellings and conversations that we have. This type of conversation is what Amin (2008) would consider a “craft” oriented community of practice, since the people who work there share the same lexicon and the same type of work.

Amin (2008) also discusses “virtual” communities, where people forge relationships using technology, which is what the military personnel in Nory and Mahon (2012) do to access information with one another in small information. It is interesting to think about how people have invented methods to have conversations over a short period of time at a long distance. It comes back to creativity again, as we have found a way to make our devices allow us to talk to one another.

Goggins, S. P., & Mascaro, C. (2013). Context Matters: The Experience of Physical, Informational, and Cultural Distance in a Rural IT Firm. Information Society, 29(2), 113-127. doi:10.1080/01972243.2012.758212

Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (1991). Organizational learning and communities-of-practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning, and innovation. Organization science, 2(1), 40-57.

Hansen, M. T., Nohria, N., & Tierney, T. (1999). What’s your strategy for managing knowledge?. The Knowledge Management Yearbook 2000–2001.

Jones, N. B., & Mahon, J. F. (2012). Nimble knowledge transfer in high velocity/turbulent environments. Journal of Knowledge Management, 16(5), 774-788. doi:

Amin, A., & Roberts, J. (2008). Knowing in action: Beyond communities of practice.Research policy, 37(2), 353-369.





4 thoughts on “The Good Old Fashioned Way?

  1. On one hand, I like person-to-person communication because I think that’s where we understand each other best. Little nuances which simply can’t be communicated digitally help us determine tone, attitude, and meaning. Sarcasm does not translate very well to emails.

    On the other hand, there are some things I really don’t like about people-to-people communications. Sometimes people just don’t listen to you, or you say one thing and they hear another. And then, if miscommunication happens, it’s your word against theirs on what happened.

    And sometimes there’s that awful feeling that they don’t like what you’re saying and they’re just not going to be helpful at all.


  2. I really like the connections you drew between Brown and Duguide and Amin. I was also very intrigued by the “craft oriented community of practice” as well as your discussion of virtual communities.


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