Making knowledge the basis of a dynamic theory of the firm

Making knowledge the basis of a dynamic theory of the firm Knowledge is too problematic a concept to make the task of building a dynamic knowledge‐based theory of the firm easy. We must also distinguish the theory from the resource‐based and evolutionary views. The paper begins with a multitype epistemology which admits both the pre‐ and subconscious modes of human knowing and, reframing the concept of the cognizing individual, the collective knowledge of social groups. While both Nelson and Winter, and Nonaka and Takeuchi, successfully sketch theories of the dynamic interactions of these types of organizational knowledge, neither indicates how they are to be contained. Callon and Latour suggest knowledge itself is dynamic and contained within actor networks, so moving us from knowledge as a resource toward knowledge as a process. To simplify this approach, we revisit sociotechnical systems theory, adopt three heuristics from the social constructionist literature, and make a distinction between the systemic and component attributes of the actor network. The result is a very different mode of theorizing, less an objective statement about the nature of firms ‘out there’ than a tool to help managers discover their place in the firm as a dynamic knowledge‐based activity system. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Strategic Management Journal Wiley

Making knowledge the basis of a dynamic theory of the firm

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1996 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
ISSN
0143-2095
eISSN
1097-0266
DOI
10.1002/smj.4250171106
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Knowledge is too problematic a concept to make the task of building a dynamic knowledge‐based theory of the firm easy. We must also distinguish the theory from the resource‐based and evolutionary views. The paper begins with a multitype epistemology which admits both the pre‐ and subconscious modes of human knowing and, reframing the concept of the cognizing individual, the collective knowledge of social groups. While both Nelson and Winter, and Nonaka and Takeuchi, successfully sketch theories of the dynamic interactions of these types of organizational knowledge, neither indicates how they are to be contained. Callon and Latour suggest knowledge itself is dynamic and contained within actor networks, so moving us from knowledge as a resource toward knowledge as a process. To simplify this approach, we revisit sociotechnical systems theory, adopt three heuristics from the social constructionist literature, and make a distinction between the systemic and component attributes of the actor network. The result is a very different mode of theorizing, less an objective statement about the nature of firms ‘out there’ than a tool to help managers discover their place in the firm as a dynamic knowledge‐based activity system.

Journal

Strategic Management JournalWiley

Published: Dec 1, 1996

References

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