Knowledge Unplugged. An Action Research Approach to Enhancing Knowing in R&D Organizations
Doctoral thesis, 2002
This thesis deals with how knowledge is shared and converted into action in organizational settings. Managers in knowledge-intensive organizations have shown increasing interest in knowledge management literature, while at the same time great attention is being paid to knowledge by theorists who are proclaiming that knowledge is one major source of competitive advantage. Despite many efforts to apply and understand the management of knowledge, there seems to be growing discontentment among managers regarding the practices used and theory which does not give guidance in how to manage knowledge. Leaning on the view of knowledge as, to a great degree, socially constructed which emerges from interpersonal abilities to make sense of complex realities, as contextually bounded and often tied to action, has led to experiments in a pharmaceutical R&D organization. These experiments form the basis of this thesis.
The aim of the thesis is to generate knowledge of how to manage knowledge production, and achieves this by exploring how to enhance knowledge sharing in R&D organizations, for the value of practice as well as theory; by experimenting with tools for managers who want to manage knowledge creation and sharing across organizational boundaries, and by illustrating how action research in a collaborative team can contribute to knowledge production, both for the academy and the studied organization.
Action research has been used as the basic research methodology, where the author's boundary-spanning role between industry and academy has paved the way for experiments using the action research methodology, which proved to be a productive way of producing scientific knowledge and initiating change activities within the studied company. The research has resulted in a number of tools for managers who want to manage knowledge creation and sharing in organizations and has given concepts and models to explain existing complex realities within the organization. In addition, the research has given insights into how the interrelatedness of individuals in a team positively effects knowledge creation, in this thesis referred to as care. Furthermore, the research contributes to a rediscovery of the experiment in the context of knowledge management theory, which in most cases is either descriptive or normative.
R and D organization