Knowledge Theory

Blackler (1995) studied knowledge management from the perspective of various sociological theories, including conflict, activity and other theories. This also discussed the concept of enculturation, where culture is so ingrained in people that they do not seem to realize that their behavior is based on these norms, which does seem to factor in with some of the theories that Blackler (1995) discussed, such as activity theory. The reason for this is that activity theory does involve the activities that people do in their daily lives, so ¬†thinking about it, wouldn’t enculturation be more of a factor in Blackler’s (1995) examination?

Tsoukas (2001) also discusses this idea when talking about language and how Castillian grammar just “was” rather than trying to have it be expressed so that people can better understand it. It seems to be an excellent example of enculturation, since people don’t often even think about institutional norms once they have adjusted to the environment. However, Tsoukas (2001) seems to favor in person communication¬†rather than electronic formats, whereas Trkman (2011) seems to be more in favor of electronic communication assisting in building of networks between individuals within a company as well as with persons outside of the community.

It seems like so much of our knowledge organization, sharing and exchange is all couched within a specific cultural context, like Mary’s example of the fireman and RHXMAXSONLIS’s discussion of organizational culture.Why is so much of our knowledge context a bi-product of our environment? Does the rapid globalization that we are experiencing, as well as the diversification of the US affect the culture that we are couched in or is this related more towards family and friends? How do we decide what is cultural and what is merely a bi-product of information exchange?

It seems a bit confusing to try and establish which is which. What are the factors that are cultural which help people decide to share with one another? One of the rather glaring gaps between these three articles is that none of them discusses how to overcome cultural barriers, language barriers, and social customs which are different to share information with one another. How do people do this? It seems like people have always found a way to foster trade, and in our rapidly globalizing world, there must be a way for people to communicate with one another despite boundaries. I do understand the point of Tsoukas’s(2001) example, however, because so much of language is based entirely on context. In different parts of the world, the same word in Spanish can mean different things or the word will exist in one place and not another, due to having blended with native languages or neighboring languages.

Blackler, F. (1995). Knowledge, knowledge work and organizations: An overview and interpretation. Organization Studies, 16(6), 1021-1046. doi:10.1177/017084069501600605

Trkman, P., & Desouza, K.C. (2012). Knowledge risks in organizational networks: An exploratory framework. Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 21(1), 1-17. doi:10.1016/j.jsis.2011.11.001. Available here: SSRN Print

Tsoukas, H. (2001). What is organizational knowledge. Journal of Management Studies, 38(7), 973-993. doi:10.1111/1467-6486.00268

3 thoughts on “Knowledge Theory

  1. You mention one word meaning something different in Spanish, and I couldn’t help but think of the fact that, in English, one word could mean something entirely different depending on context – and it can be even harder when you’re just listening to someone. For example, “read”. You could write “I read Shakespeare” and mean it in the present tense, where this is something you do on a regular basis. Or could say “I read Shakespeare” and mean it in the past tense, such as reading it for a specific class. With just one sentence, it’s hard to tell if you mean “read” (r-ee-d) or “read” (r-eh-d). We have that problem at work sometimes with the shared email boxes. Sometimes when asked to “Mark an email (r-eh-d)”, it’s not clear if they mean to mark it as read (opened) or red (the color).

    Language is so important to knowledge sharing and exchange, and the culture you mention is also important. I don’t know how we can tell what’s developed as a result of knowledge sharing and what is truly cultural because over time the knowledge we share becomes a part of our culture.


    1. I do think that this a truth for any language. With the Spanish context, I was actually talking about how different words could mean different things in Spain spanish from Caribbean creole level Spanish, which would be different from Argentinian Spanish.


  2. Establishing a healthy balance of both interpersonal face to face interaction and electronic communication is becoming more and more of a challenge. It’s an interesting societal adjustment overall. Technology just make things, and especially communication and knowledge sharing so darn easy!


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