Bridging Epistemologies: The Generative Dance Between Organizational Knowledge and Organizational Knowing

Much current work on organizational knowledge, intellectual capital, knowledge-creating organizations, knowledge work, and the like rests on a single, traditional understanding of the nature of knowledge. We call this understanding the “epistemology of possession,” since it treats knowledge as something people possess. Yet, this epistemology cannot account for the knowledge found in individual and group practice. Knowing as action calls for an“epistemology of practice.” Moreover, the epistemology of possession tends to privilege explicitly over tacit knowledge, and knowledge possessed by individuals over that possessed by groups. Current work on organizations is limited by this privileging and by the scant attention is given to know in its own right. Organizations are better understood if explicit, tacit, individual and group knowledge are treated as four distinct and co-equal forms of knowledge (each doing work the others can not), and if knowledge and knowing are seen as mutually enabling (not competing). We hold that knowledge is a tool of knowledge, that knowledge is an aspect of our interaction with the social and physical world, and that the interplay of knowledge and knowing can generate new knowledge and new ways of knowing. We believe this generative dance between knowledge and knowing is a powerful source of organizational innovation. Harnessing this innovation calls for organizational and technological infrastructures that support the interplay of knowledge and knowing. Ultimately, these concepts make possible a more robust framing of such epistemologically-centered concerns as core competencies, the management of intellectual capital, etc. We explore these views through three brief case studies drawn from recent research.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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