Can knowledge be transferred?

Ennals, Richard, Totterdill, Peter and Parrington, Robert (2010) Can knowledge be transferred? In: Innovation through Knowledge Transfer 2010; 07 - 08 Dec 2010, Coventry, U.K.. (Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies, no. 9) ISBN 9783642205071


The paper argues that conventional models of knowledge transfer are confused and mistaken. Books can be transferred between people. Knowledge is more complex. Knowledge transfer is not a linear process managed by administrators. It is a matter of culture change, with knowledge as integral to the culture. Knowledge is socially constituted, and not simply held by individuals. Explicit knowledge is only the tip of the iceberg. We need to address implicit knowledge, and most importantly, tacit knowledge. Knowledge is acquired through shared experience, typically by involvement in a particular form of life, with distinctive language games. On this basis, it is important to create environments in which experience can be shared, and where knowledge can be given practical meaning. In the context of innovation, we can seek to develop innovation systems, contexts in which new ideas can be developed and applied. In the context of the workplace, we need to facilitate dialogue, and partnership arrangements which engage the local actors, as well as the social partners and external research resources. The paper considers four new structures for work organisation which enable experience to be shared, ideas applied, and knowledge acquired: Students� Quality Circles, Senior Quality Circles, Forum Theatre, and Network Consultancy. Conclusions are presented from a feasibility study project based at Kingston Business School, and conducted in association with the UK Work Organisation Network. Key Words: consultancy, dialogue, forum theatre, partnership, Quality Circles, tacit knowledge, work organisation

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