5.6.3 Embedded Knowledge Sharing

5.6.3 Embedded Knowledge Sharing

         As explained earlier, embedded knowledge refers to knowledge locked in products, processes, routines, etc. Embedded knowledge is relation-specific, contextual and dispersed. It is 'situated knowledge' organized around a set of rules and a myriad of relationships which enable the organization to function in a coordinated way. It is the social knowledge of coordination, communication and learning generated through organizational identity (Kogut & Udo, 1996). Embedded knowledge is organic and dynamic; it is an emergent form of knowledge capable of supporting complex patterns of interaction in the absence of written rules. It is, however, also 'sticky' and ‘path dependent’: its generation and application can be constrained by the established organizing principles and patterns of social relations (Lam, 1998).

         The above mentioned characteristics of embedded knowledge show that it is very valuable for organizations and can be shared when the knowledge from one product or process is incorporated into another. However, Management must understand what knowledge is locked within those sources, and they must transfer the relevant parts into a different system. To do this, Gamble and Blackwell (2001) advocate the use of:

  • Scenario planning: The practice of creating a set of scenarios and hypothesizing how they might unfold by drawing upon the perspectives of experts, the firm's knowledge asserts, and so on .
  • After action reviews: structured reviews or de-brief process can be used to analyze what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better.

        &nbspIt is important to note that embedded knowledge could theoretically be transferred as is simply by testing the effects of procedures, culture, or design features transferred from one area to another. However, often it will have to be made explicit, or partially explicit, at least to the responsible managers. This way they can hypothesize the effects that embedded knowledge has in a given situation and can use simulation and experimentation to implement it in a new area.