As suggested above, we are using the term ‘watershed’ to indicate a significant turning-point in the development of the subject area. In making sense of key watersheds we need to take account of (a) the absolute frequency of citation, (b) the timing of each publication, (c) the topic of the paper that does the citing, and (d) the text in which the citation is embedded. Given the natural tendency of academics to cite more recent work, there is a good case for giving extra weight to some of the older works which have been cited, especially where they are identified by authors working in different fields.

On this basis we may identify three main groups of literature as the timeline moves forward: (i) classic works that pre-date the identification of the ideas of organizational learning and knowledge management per se, (ii) foundational works which represent some of the first writings that set the agenda for subsequent work, and (iii) popularizing works which have acted as the most visible watersheds in the development of the field. It is important to note in passing that we do not regard the third term as being in any way pejorative; indeed, some of the ‘popularizing’ works were highly scholarly and all of them managed to generate streams of extremely valuable work. It is not possible to give single time-bands within which the three groups of literature appeared because different sub-areas have emerged at different times and at different rates; hence, the relevant watersheds ...

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