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Organisational forms and knowledge management: one size fits all?

By Arnoud Franken and Ashley Braganza


In the new economy, a firm's sustainable competitive advantage flows from its ability to create and exploit new knowledge. Consequently, the need for executives to manage this process effectively is greater than ever. The extant knowledge management literature contains an implicit assumption that a standard approach with universal applicability to this process exists. Yet many organisations adopting this approach fail to realise the anticipated benefits. In this paper, the underlying causes for these failures are discussed and the assumption of a standard knowledge management approach critically challenged. To this end, the organisational form framework by Miles and Snow is integrated, for the first time, with the knowledge management models by Nonaka. Through the integration of these two frameworks, it is shown that the choice of knowledge management approach cannot be unqualified but must be closely aligned with the organisation's strategic and operational form in order for the anticipated benefits to be reaped. Our analysis suggests three conclusions: One, Prospector- type organisations will tend to adopt Bottom-Up approaches for effective knowledge creation; two, Defender-type organisations will tend to adopt Top-Down approaches; and three, Analyser types will adopt Middle-Up-Down knowledge creation approaches. We provide directions for future research

Topics: organisational forms, knowledge creation, knowledge management, organisational design, organisational change, change management, process management, project management
Year: 2006
DOI identifier: 10.1504/IJKMS.2006.008843
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

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