Ordering Disorders. Linking organization design and knowledge integration
until further notice
SourceKnowledge Management Research & Practice, 12, 1, (2014), pp. 48-61
31 december 2012
Article / Letter to editor
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Knowledge Management Research & Practice
Studies addressing the connections between knowledge and organization structures can be divided into two classes. One class holds that a perspective on knowledge signals shortcomings of classical design principles and calls for flatter hierarchy and less specification of the production structure. Another class maintains that a knowledge perspective on organizations is at odds with any design perspective, whether classical or not, because the emergent, thoroughly social and practice-based nature of knowledge as knowing in action makes knowledge a useless and even dangerous beacon to designers: ex ante, knowledge is said to be fundamentally indeterminate and any attempt to ‘structure around knowledge’ may effectively drive out knowledge. To explore differences and possible bridges between these two calls of studies, the paper explores how both elements of the equation, organization structure and organizational knowledge, are to be conceived to ensure a meaningful connection between them. It is argued that the grouping focus in both defines the meeting place of organization structures and organizational knowledge, but shows that the involved knowledge and grouping concepts are not mutually compatible. It leads to a view where organization structures are seen as the ‘seeding’ background for knowledge integration processes that, in turn, constitute the patterns of work relationships envisioned in the designer's organizational decomposition and grouping. For illustration purposes, the paper presents the example of the Max Planck Institute that describes one possible way through the conceptual model presented in the paper.
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