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The Social Embeddedness of Knowledge Problems of Knowledge Sharing and Organisational Learning in International High-Technology Ventures

Listed author(s):
  • Alice Lam

The growing importance of knowledge-based competition has prompted many firms to build international cooperative ventures for skills acquisition and knowledge building. Based on an empirical study of a close collaboration in the knowledge intensive area between a British and a Japanese high-technology firm, the paper examines how the socially embedded nature of knowledge can impede cross-national collaborative work and knowledge sharing. The paper uses Michael Polanyi's concept of 'tacit knowledge' in a much wider societal context. It develops a conceptual model for analysing the main differences and 'points of friction' between the British 'professional' and the Japanese 'organisational' models of organisation of knowledge in high-level technical work. It shows how the dominant form of knowledge held in organisations, its degree of tacitness, and the way in which it is structured, utilised and transmitted can vary considerably between firms in different societal settings. The study demonstrates a strong presence of 'societal effects' on the knowledge base of the firm and how this might impose a limit on knowledge sharing and organisational learning across national boundaries.

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Paper provided by DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies in its series DRUID Working Papers with number 98-7.

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Date of creation: 1998
Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:98-7
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