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Knowledge is a very seductive, but elusive concept. Following the wider debate about the emergence of the information age and the knowledge society, recent years have seen an explosion of writings about organizational knowledge from different disciplinary and theoretical perspectives. Yet, theoretical development has not always been accompanied by sound empirical research. Methodologies for studying knowledge as an empirical phenomenon are still lagging behind. This book aims to fill the gap between theory, method, and practice by developing a phenomenological approach to the study of knowing in the context of organizing. The book contributes to the fields of strategy and organization in three ways. First it provides a critical review of the concepts, debates, and epistemological assumptions underpinning existing theories of organizational knowledge. Second, it develops a methodological framework for studying knowledge processes as an empirical phenomenon that is based on three methodological lenses: time, breakdowns, and narratives.
Third, drawing on the three-lens framework, the book presents a phenomenological enquiry on knowing and organizing processes within two large car-manufacturing plants at Fiat Auto, Italy. The book highlights the need to re-think organizational knowledge from an action-based perspective and suggests a new vocabulary for understanding knowledge-oriented phenomena in organizations. The book is addressed both to scholars of strategy and organization and to reflective practitioners. Academics will be stimulated to reflect upon concepts they normally take for granted and habitually use in their research. The book is also suitable for young researchers and doctoral students whose research interests lie in the areas of knowledge and organization. The Fiat case study, on which the book is based, offers interesting insights to practitioners as far as classical themes like change, innovation, and organizational design are concerned. Contrary to mainstream knowledge management texts, however, this book does not provide any recipes about alleged best ways for managing organizational knowledge.
Rather, it invites managers and practitioners to reflect about the repertoire of knowledge they possess and yet cannot articulate.
Gerado Patriotta is Associate Professor of Strategic Management at teh Rotterdam School of Managemetn, Erasmus University, The Netherlands. He received his Ph.d. in Business Studies from the University of Warwick, UK. His research interests include organizing, organizational sensemaking, the study of institution building processes in organizations, technology and organization.