Organizational Knowledge-Bases

Authors using this broader concept of organizational knowledge have sometimes invoked one of three broad abstractions to represent an organizational knowledge-base. First, they have used the concept of a set (Nelson and Winter, 1982; Kogut and Zander, 1992, 1996; Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995; Ahuja and Katila, 2001; Nerkar and Roberts, 2004). A set representation assumes that an organization’s knowledge can be represented as a collection of individual, discrete elements or quanta. A set representation enables the quantification of an organization’s knowledge-base, is broad based and generic, and allows basic algebraic operations to be performed such as union and intersection. All these properties can be usefully exploited in organizational knowledge contexts.

For instance, the cardinal number of a set can be used to serve as an indicator of the size of an organization’s knowledge-base, and can thus be used to describe both the absolute size of a knowledge-base as well as its relative size in a comparison between two knowledge-bases (Ahuja and Katila, 2001). The elements can reflect technical knowledge, knowledge about individual routines or procedures, or even organizational beliefs or heuristics (Nelson and Winter, 1982; Kogut and Zander, 1992; Grant, 1996; Nerkar and Roberts, 2004). Operations such as union and intersection can be meaningfully interpreted in the organizational context as the aggregation of knowledge-bases (for instance through mergers, ...

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