Placing Knowledge Management in Context

23 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2004  

Mark Thompson

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School

Geoff Walsham

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School

Abstract

We welcome the increased emphasis on practice-based theories of knowing as an alternative to the more representational, knowledge-as-object approaches which have characterised many organizational attempts at 'knowledge management' to date. Building on the findings of a short empirical study into the 'knowledge management' initiatives of a global software organization, which highlighted the value of rich context in the generation of meaning, we seek to shed some light on a perceived confusion about the nature of organizational context. We show such context to be an inseparable part of knowing, which it creates and by which it is defined, and re-use Blackler's (1995) taxonomy of 'knowledge types' to illustrate the relational interaction between shared and deeply personal components of context. Finally, we use these insights to suggest a way in which organizations may be able to derive more value from their investments in internal initiatives by increasing their ability to support knowing - and hence the generation of meaning - amongst their employees.

Suggested Citation

Thompson, Mark and Walsham, Geoff, Placing Knowledge Management in Context. Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 41, No. 5, pp. 725-747, July 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=559300

Mark P. A. Thompson (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School ( email )

Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom

Geoff Walsham

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School ( email )

Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom

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