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Accessing and sharing dispersed knowledge in ecosystems is neither easy nor automatic. In ecosystems, focal firms should purposely create the right conditions and act to deal with dispersed knowledge. This study aims to investigate how focal firms manage dispersed knowledge in ecosystems characterized by a set of autonomous, heterogeneous, yet interdependent actors involved in experimentation under uncertainty.Design/methodology/approachFollowing a conceptual framework based on preceding literature, this study conducted a broad qualitative case study of 6 firms and 12 projects, with 43 semi-structured interviews to identify the patterns of actions associated with dispersed knowledge management (KM) in ecosystems. This paper combines coding and multiple case comparisons to examine the processes and strategies used by the firms to strategically manage dispersed knowledge in ecosystems.FindingsThis paper proposes a framework that articulates a new type of orchestration (dispersed knowledge orchestration) and offers a new set of dispersed knowledge strategies (transfer, modularity and circular) for ecosystems.Practical implicationsInnovation and knowledge managers play the roles of dispersed knowledge orchestrators. The study offers guidance on how focal firms should carefully use a particular set of approaches (e.g. integrative theorization) including a portfolio of dispersed knowledge strategies in ecosystems.Originality/valueCurrent literature on KM and ecosystem management offers a limited understanding of how organizations manage dispersed knowledge in ecosystems. The research provides three major original contributions. First, the framework contributes to broadening the current understanding of ecosystem orchestration by identifying the micro-foundations of dispersed knowledge orchestration: integrative theorization, nurturing distributed sensemaking and a new chapter for ecosystem governance (i.e. dispersed knowledge governance). Moreover, the framework proposes a new type of strategy, the dispersed knowledge strategy. Finally, by exploring the interplay between the micro-foundations of dispersed knowledge orchestration and dispersed knowledge strategy, the results contribute to a multi-level approach in the field.
Journal of Knowledge Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 24, 2021
Keywords: Strategy; Ecosystem; Orchestration; Circular knowledge strategy; Dispersed knowledge management
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