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Appears in Collections:Management, Work and Organisation eTheses
Title: Knowledge management in a global setting: a critique of knowledge transfer and the role of knowledge workers
Authors: Konstantinou, Efrosyni
Supervisor(s): Fincham, Robin
Baldry, Christopher
Keywords: Knowledge Management
Knowledge worker
Knowledge sharing
Knowledge Trading
Critical distance
Multiplicity of being
Multiplicity of behaviour
Levels of disturbance
Issue Date: 30-Apr-2008
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: As a form of expert labour and organizational resource, knowledge workers are important in organizational life as producers and consumers of knowledge. The role of knowledge workers and the ways in which they transfer their knowledge become important as they possess the symbolic and analytic skills to undertake work which is contingent upon the application of ambiguous knowledge in uncertain, networked business environments. Yet, in much of the existing literature knowledge workers and knowledge transfer seem to have been partially interpreted and through a perspective maintaining an emphasis on organizational performance. Current understanding of the role of knowledge workers sees knowledge workers as either willing or reluctant to share knowledge, i.e. as either contributing to organizational efficiency or its opposite, while knowledge sharing is unequivocally understood as beneficial for organizational performance. The aim of the study is to produce an interpretation of knowledge transfer and the role of knowledge workers that extends beyond simplified and limited categories. The perspective of the knowledge worker is centrally adopted and, using this approach, the identity of knowledge workers and their interpretation of knowledge sharing are explored. The study focuses on 58 knowledge workers in the subsidiaries of five high-tech multinational companies in Athens, Greece, where complex, ambiguous knowledge work and operational interdependencies are supported by elaborate architectures of Knowledge Management initiatives. The method of data collection is interviews and data have been analysed by using QSR N-VIVO and developing thematic conceptual matrices. The findings suggest that, across organizational contexts, knowledge workers construct and maintain identities of competence and upward mobility and exhibit a combination of behaviour. Here, knowledge is better seen as being traded, rather than shared. Knowledge exchanges are subject to a set of knowledge trading principles which reflect self-interested and instrumental conceptualizations of competence and lead to the discrimination and selection of knowledge categories, uses and groups of colleagues. It is indicated that different conceptualizations of the self and various behaviours co-exist and manifest interchangeably thus both supporting and undermining corporate priorities throughout the course of practice. Knowledge worker self and behaviour play an ambivalent role in relation to corporate priorities disturbing but also harmonizing the organizational context. Monochrome notions of ‘sharing’, or interpretations assuming either the willingness to share knowledge or not reflect only part of who the knowledge worker is and why he/she transfers knowledge.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: Stirling Management School

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