Abstract: Knowledge management and its features should be considered as crucial assets in knowledge-critical organizations, such as innovative manufacturing firms, research centres, universities, service companies, etc. Traditional knowledge management approaches are often aimed at unveiling, distributing and sharing knowledge as a stable and standardized result of meaning negotiation and coordination processes. In this article we want to underline the fact that standardization is only one of the most important coordination processes within organizations, and two other processes are needed: coordination by plan and coordination by mutual adaptation. All these three coordination processes should be seriously taken into account within a knowledge management systems, allowing different strategies of meaning coordination processes. In particular, we propose an approach to meaning coordination that is based upon the adoption of a formal ontology as a means for managing the coordination itself. In practice, the approach requires that a centralised formal ontology have to sustain three different processes that reflect the organizational coordination processes: (i) guaranteeing reference to unique definitions (standardization of concepts), (ii) leaving the individuals of the organization free to use their own terms, with specific meanings (coordination by plan), (iii) allowing the individuals to continuously negotiate meanings and create their own ontology from scratch (mutual adaptation that takes place when the coordination between two or more subjects attempt at sharing the meaning of a single term). Finally, the paper underlines how a particular meaning negotiation process is correlated to the organizational coordination processes, which depend on the type of production, processes and technologies that are used within the firm
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