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


  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alice Lam, 1998. "The Social Embeddedness of Knowledge Problems of Knowledge Sharing and Organisational Learning in International High-Technology Ventures," DRUID Working Papers 98-7, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:98-7

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    Cited by:

    1. Aizhan Samambayeva & Manuel Fernández Grela, 2014. "Innovation performance as a factor of socio-economic development in Kazakhstan," 2nd International Conference on Energy, Regional Integration and Socio-Economic Development 7897, EcoMod.
    2. Robert J. Stimson, 2014. "Proximity and endogenous regional development," Chapters,in: Regional Development and Proximity Relations, chapter 1, pages 47-93 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item


    Knowledge transfer; technology and organization; societal effect; tacit knowledge; organis;

    JEL classification:

    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure
    • L63 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Microelectronics; Computers; Communications Equipment


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