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Knowledge in Four Deformation Dimensions

By Stephane Tywoniak


This paper sketches a complexity conceptualization of knowledge. Building from evolutionary theories, it defi nes knowledge as rules that reduce environmental uncertainty through connections between ideas and facts. Knowledge is conceived as a structure validated through action, a process contextualized in individual experience and a system embedded in social and cultural experience. It exhibits four characteristics of a complex system: it is sensitive to initial conditions, exhibits multiple feedback loops, is non-linear and is recursively symmetrical. Knowledge's four interdependent deformation dimensions are identified (personal, common, tacit and explicit) and their interactions are discussed. This conceptualization of knowledge as a complex system contributes to the knowledge-based theory of the firm by providing some micro-foundations to organizational knowledge, and it opens the opportunity to re-think theories of communities of practice, entrepreneurship and firm creation, the role of managers, and knowledge management

Topics: 150312 Organisational Planning and Management, 150307 Innovation and Technology Management, complexity theory, evolutionary theory, knowledge management, uncertainty
Publisher: Sage Publications
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1177/1350508407071860
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