In this short paper, we discuss a dialectic methodology surrounding the interpretation of knowledge transfer, and the conditional elements which can be seen to support the concept of a unity of knowledge. We discuss a differing standpoint to knowledge and knowledge value, based on the knowledge transfer practitioner's perspective, but still in a business context. We ask why, if knowledge is vital for business success and competitive advantage, the transfer of knowledge is rarely a simple unproblematic event. Further, that the creation of knowledge before transfer is recognised as a significant factor in determining a starting point for analogous scrutiny, and often under a premise of doxastic attitude. This discussion therefore aims to synthesise current literature and research into an elemental epistemic principal of FIGURATION DYNAMICS, and in doing so, may help focus congruent knowledge transfer theories.
Purpose: Theoretical discussion
Keywords: Knowledge, Knowledge transfer, Philosophy, Perspectives, attitude
In general terms, we can say that a coherent and generally accepted working definition of knowledge for the organisational environment has yet to be established. In this regards, Birkinshaw, et al. (2002) suggest that in addition to no agreed upon definition of knowledge within management literature, no commonality can be offered regarding predictive knowledge transfer characteristics. Further, that problems associated with knowledge transfer are indeed prevalent, as knowledge is difficult to define and manage as it can be ambiguous, u nspecific and a dynamic phenomenon. This aligns with a view from Schultze & Stabell, (2004) and concurs with a description of philosophical implications regarding ideas about the self or personhood, from (Shapiro, 2008).
From a dynamic capacity perspective, Parent, et al. (2007) suggest that because knowledge is a subjective perspective of an individual's experience, associated problems are inextricably related to the context of the knowledge itself. Therefore, it is clear that an individuals past experiences related to knowledge, and can contribute to retaining this knowledge (Sprevak, 2009). As such, many key authors focus on ways to understand and ultimately enhance this knowledge understanding, and in doing so, explore various propositions, using occidental foci, derived from historical secular concepts of: positivism (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). empiricism (McCarthy, 2007) ,rationalism (Gabbay & Le May, 2004) and generalist philosophy (Sprevak, 2009).
In fact, it is clear why most current management literature focuses on considerations which can be effectual in using this knowledge understanding to maintain competitive advantage. It is only by analysing the complete and somewhat complex knowledge interpretation process, the identification of any 'successful' interaction between practitioners during knowledge transfer can be identified (Gherardi, 2006). This can be simply categorised as relationship between the source and the recipient; The form and location of the knowledge; The recipient's learning predisposition; the source's knowledge-sharing capability; The broader environment in which the transfer occurs.
Cachia & Compano (2007) assert this by suggesting that even though knowledge cannot readily be identified on any balance sheet, it is identified as the singularly most valuable asset for a business or organisation. Therefore, the interpretive praxis for knowledge schema could be debated at length as there is no such thing as 'normal knowledge'.
Aligning to the view from Dyer & Hatch, (2006), this discussion must therefore consider how knowledge philosophy fits within the interpretive theoretical overview and the formalised description of business management, literature on this subject is extremely diverse and non-definitive. However, for this discussion and in the spirit of understanding knowledge and philosophy, our focus will examine why it is important to discover, where knowledge is philosophically positioned in relation to a business context and ultimately from the practitioners point of view.
DEDUCIBLE by INFERENCE
If we adopt this inference at this juncture, it must therefore be as equally important to understand the significance of experiential reasoning behind this interpretive position of knowledge before it is transferred (Gherardi, 2006). This point of view is important because, the adaptation by the knowledge transfer practitioners involved purport to a position of justification in the transfer schema. Thus, discussion and examination of an overriding epistemic principal is required as a baseline for further critique of related literature. Therefore knowledge taxonomy and the types of knowledge related to business are discussed along with the necessary understanding of communication to transfer any notion of knowledge (Schultze & Stabell, 2004).
An alternative perspective to this absorbent quandary is figurational sociology. Figurational sociology (process sociology) Elias (1897-1990), encompasses dynamic webs of human interaction, the emphasis being placed on people in the plural and how people are tied into social networks because of their interdependence with each other (Elias, 1978). The concept of a figuration allows this discussion to overcome some of the theoretical problems linked with traditional sociological terms and theories.
In particular, misleading dichotomies such as those between the individual and society, or, 'agent' and 'structure'. In this respect, Elias (1978), noted that it is not productive to consider the 'individual' and 'society' as two separate entities, instead, that these two concepts refer to 'inseparable levels of the same human world' (Murphy et al 2000, p. 92). In the context of this discussion , process agents are affected by the actions of other process agents, who are bounded together by management structures, overarched by expectant outcomes.