Agency in Knowledge Sharing

In general, problems in collective action can be resolved by an agency9 (management, for example) enforcing a regime of cooperation while outside the process itself. While an agency might enforce knowledge sharing in the organization, it might have limited concern for the details of the knowledge shared, and so its control might focus more on the structure for sharing, effectiveness of sharing, fairness and distributive justice, punishing free-riders, and so on. For example, a manager of a sales team might try to organize and motivate personnel to share information and experience in building customer relations, in order to improve the overall team sales performance.

The agency can make structural choices where changes are intended to increase points of contact or networks of organization members (Kransdorf, 1998). At the modest end of the scale, as Grant (1996) suggested, knowledge can be shared by forming a group that engages in problem solving and decision making. This alternative is particularly relevant if the task’s complexity is very high and face-to-face interaction is needed to perform it. Moreover, management might create a unit to direct and oversee knowledge sharing. A comparison of manufacturing costs between a firm’s activities in various countries might reveal strong differences. Case studies have shown that in order to exploit these differences, management typically creates a new knowledge management unit, or a knowledge and technology ...

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