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Tacit Knowledge, Organisational Learning and Innovation A Societal Perspective

Author

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  • Alice Lam

Abstract

Knowledge and competence are increasingly regarded as the most critical resources of firms and economies. Much recent attention has focused, in particular, on the importance of 'tacit knowledge' for sustaining firms’ competitiveness, and its role in technological innovation and organisational learning. This paper argues that the extent to which tacit knowledge constitutes the knowledge base of the firm, and how it is formed and used are powerfully shaped by the broader social and institutional context. It builds upon the premise that the knowledge of the firm is socially embedded. It is rooted in organisational coordination mechanisms and routines which, in turn, are heavily influenced by societal institutions. Societal level factors such as education and training systems, the structures of the labour market and social relationships between different occupational groups are important factors shaping organisational structures and processes within which the knowledge of the firm is embedded. The paper develops a four-fold typology, at the individual, organisational and societal levels, as an analytical framework to explain the links between knowledge types, patterns of work organisation and societal institutions. It shows how the three levels interact to shape the learning and innovative capabilities of firms. The theory developed in this paper represents the first attempt to integrate the diverse strands of literature and different levels of analysis into a single coherent framework. It holds promise for interpreting and understanding the sources of differences in learning and innovation practices between firms, industries and countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Alice Lam, 1998. "Tacit Knowledge, Organisational Learning and Innovation A Societal Perspective," DRUID Working Papers 98-22, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:98-22
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dieter Ernst, 1999. "Responses to the Crisis Constraints to a Rapid Trade Adjustment in East Asia´s Electronics Industry," DRUID Working Papers 99-2, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    2. Gatti, Donatella, 2000. "Competence, knowledge, and the labour market: the role of complementarities," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economic Change and Employment FS I 00-302, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    3. Pyastolov, S.M., 2010. "Thresholds in institutional spaces," MPRA Paper 43854, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Bengt-Åke Lundvall & Jesper Lindgaard Christensen, 1999. "Extending and Deepening the Analysis of Innovation Systems - with Empirical Illustrations from the DISCO-project," DRUID Working Papers 99-12, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    5. repec:wsi:jikmxx:v:08:y:2009:i:03:n:s0219649209002373 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Alberto Melo, 2001. "The Innovation Systems of Latin America and the Caribbean," Research Department Publications 4283, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    7. Alberto Melo, 2001. "The Innovation Systems of Latin America and the Caribbean," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 1429, Inter-American Development Bank.
    8. Chatterjee, Sidharta, 2016. "Theory of Gen Inertia," MPRA Paper 69950, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Alberto Melo, 2001. "La política industrial en América Latina y el Caribe a comienzos del siglo," Research Department Publications 4282, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    10. Kirsten Foss & Nicolai J. Foss, 1999. "Organizing Economic Experiments The Role of Firms," DRUID Working Papers 99-5, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
    11. Alberto Melo, 2001. "Los sistemas de innovación en América Latina y el Caribe," Research Department Publications 4284, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    12. Alberto Melo, 2001. "Industrial Policy in Latin America and the Caribbean at the Turn of the Century," Research Department Publications 4281, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tacit knowledge; organisational learning; innovation; national innovation system; societal effect;

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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