Managing the knowledge landscape of an MNC: Knowledge networking at Ericsson
Journal article, 2004
In organizations striving for continuous innovation, the deliberate handling of knowledge plays a fundamental role. This far, most knowledge management initiatives have consisted of the implementation of new IT tools allowing for more efficient information handling. This approach has been criticized, as it does not consider certain aspects of knowledge, e.g. tacitness, social embeddedness and the creation of new knowledge. Alternative knowledge management approaches based on a more comprehensive notion of knowledge have been called for, but few examples of what these could look like in practice have been given. One example of an attempt to manage knowledge in a more holistic manner is knowledge networking. Based on case studies of seven different knowledge networking initiatives within Ericsson, the key components of the overall approach are described and some of the challenges posed to management are identified. Key issues that need to be attended to when designing and implementing individual knowledge networking initiatives are the extension and focus of user groups, the role of management in the initiatives and the promotion of knowledge-sharing behaviour throughout the organization. Ericsson's knowledge networking strategy aims at developing a loosely coupled structure of nuclei for knowledge creation and sharing, connected to each other by different kinds of knowledge directories. This appears to have some advantages compared to traditional knowledge management strategies, as it supports the creation and sharing of both tacit and explicit knowledge. Furthermore, its strong focus on locally developed initiatives and knowledge directories may offer a more dynamic support structure than traditional top-down initiatives focusing primarily on knowledge repositories. © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.