20Expanding Knowledge and Mobilizing Social Networks

20.1. Introduction

Contemporary organizations are subject to increased demands for knowledge management in response to both the injunction to innovate (Alter 2000) and the rapid transformation of the knowledge and technologies used, what some authors call a knowledge economy era (Foray 2000; Amin and Cohendet 2004). Facing these situations of innovation then requires the mobilization of new knowledge, well in advance of the development of their collective actions. The aim is to access, apprehend and even create, in a given time, new knowledge that is relevant, absorbable and usable in a situation, whether it is in the scientific register or in the experiential register (Lièvre 2016). Two types of questions arise: how can we mobilize relational resources for exploration purposes and how can we ensure the cooperation of the people involved? What type of knowledge do they provide access to and how can we ensure their relevance?

We try to clarify the process of knowledge expansion from the corpus of social network theory. We also review the two major streams of research on social networks (Granovetter 1973; Burt 1992), and then show the implications and limitations of each from the perspective of knowledge expansion. Third, in response to the question raised by the cooperation of actors involved in a process of knowledge expansion, we revisit the definition of the weak tie according to Granovetter (1973) and propose the notion ...

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