nep-knm New Economics Papers
on Knowledge Management and Knowledge Economy
Issue of 2010‒06‒04
five papers chosen by
Laura Stefanescu
European Research Centre of Managerial Studies in Business Administration

  1. Born to be Wild: Using Communities of Practice as a Tool for Knowledge Management By Valérie Chanal; Chris Kimble
  2. The Evaluation of Policies for Knowledge Transfer: Some Emerging Issues By Elisa Barbieri
  3. Teaching entrepreneurship students to become knowledge-agents for innovation By Ronald Jean Degen
  4. Building Sustainable Organizations: The Human Factor By Pfeffer, Jeffrey
  5. Open Source Software Production, Spontaneous Input, and Organizational Learning By Garzarelli, Giampaolo; Fontanella, Riccardo

  1. By: Valérie Chanal (PACTE - Politiques publiques, ACtion politique, TErritoires - CNRS : UMR5194 - Université Pierre Mendès-France - Grenoble II - Institut d'Études Politiques de Grenoble - Université Joseph Fourier - Grenoble I); Chris Kimble (Euromed Marseille - Euromed Marseille)
    Abstract: This paper looks at what happens when Communities of Practice are used as a tool for Knowledge Management. The original concept of a Community of Practice appears to have very little in common with the knowledge sharing communities found in Knowledge Management, which are based on a revised view of 'cultivated' communities. We examine the risks and benefits of cultivating Communities of Practice rather than leaving them 'in the wild'. The paper presents the findings from two years of research in a small microelectronics firm to provide some insights into the wild vs domesticated dichotomy and discusses the implications of attempting to tame Communities of Practice in this way.
    Keywords: Communities of Practice, Knowledge Management
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Elisa Barbieri (Department of Economics, Institutions and Environment University of Ferrara)
    Abstract: Governments in western countries are seeing Universities as the key actor to promote a transition to a knowledge-based economy that can help the future competitiveness challenges posed by new entrants in the global market. In this context, specific industrial policies are designed to promote a transfer of technology, and a more general transfer of knowledge from universities to firms, in order to favour innovation, that is the economic exploitation and commercialisation of new products and processes generated by inventions within universities. Although the use of these policies is rapidly expanding, the same cannot be said of the evaluation efforts made to understand the effects of the reforms promoted in western economies. This paper offers a contribution to the existing literature and highlights some key open issues on which future research can build in order to improve the knowledge on the effectiveness of reforms we are witnessing, in particular in the U.S. and in Europe.
    Keywords: Evaluation of policies; university technology transfer; university patenting; university spin-off
    JEL: L3 O3 H5
    Date: 2010–03
  3. By: Ronald Jean Degen (International School of Management Paris)
    Abstract: Drucker (1985) has postulated that entrepreneurship is the ?practice of innovation?. As such, he has outlined that it is knowledge-based, and that like any other practice (such as medicine or engineering) it can be learned. He wrote that we cannot develop a theory of innovation. But and that it is sufficient to say when, where, and how to look for innovation opportunities. As a consequence of the lack of a theoretical base for innovation, Drucker (and most other authors) simply ignore how entrepreneurs ?practice innovation? and how this practice can be learned; and have concentrated instead on how to systematically look for innovation opportunities. The constant demand by entrepreneurship students for information about how to learn the ?practice of innovation? forced me (Degen 1989, 2009) to develop some rudimentary approaches to learning the practice. This paper builds on these approaches, and tries to shed some additional light on the way entrepreneurs learn the ?practice of innovation? in such a way that they become ?knowledge agents for innovation?. This paper also explores how this practice can be taught to entrepreneurship students.
    Keywords: entrepreneurs as innovators, practice of innovation, knowledge-agents for innovation, creative process, teaching entrepreneurship
    JEL: M0 M1
    Date: 2010–05–26
  4. By: Pfeffer, Jeffrey (Stanford University)
    Abstract: Although most of the research and public pressure concerning sustainability has been focused on the effects of business and organizational activity on the physical environment, companies and their management practices profoundly affect the human and social environment as well. This article briefly reviews the literature on the direct and indirect effects of organizations and their decisions about people on human health and mortality. It then considers some possible explanations for why social sustainability has received relatively short shrift in management writing, and outlines a research agenda for investigating the links between social sustainability and organizational effectiveness as well as the role of ideology in understanding the relative neglect of the human factor in sustainability research.
    Date: 2010–01
  5. By: Garzarelli, Giampaolo; Fontanella, Riccardo
    Abstract: This work shows that the modular organization of voluntary Open Source Software (OSS) production, whereby programmers supply effort of their accord, capitalizes more on division than on specialization of labor. This is so because voluntary OSS production is characterized by an organizational learning process that dominates the individual one. Organizational learning reveals production choices that would otherwise remain unknown, thereby increasing productivity and indirectly reinforcing incentives to undertake collective problem solving.
    Keywords: Division of Labor; Mistake-ridden Learning; Modularity; Open Source Software; Self-selection; Voluntary Production
    JEL: L23 D20 L17
    Date: 2010

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