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Knowledge Work and Innovation

Ikujiro Nonaka (1991) described knowledge as the fuel for innovation, but was concerned that many managers failed to understand how knowledge could be leveraged. Companies are more like living organisms than machines, he argued, and most viewed knowledge as a static input to the corporate machine. Nonaka advocated a view of knowledge as renewable and changing, and that knowledge workers were the agents for that change. Knowledge-creating companies, he believed, should be focused primarily on the task of innovation.

This laid the foundation for the new practice of knowledge management, or "KM", which evolved in the 1990s to support knowledge workers with standard tools and processes.

Tapscott and Williams (2006) note a strong, on-going linkage between knowledge workers and innovation. As internet social media tools drive more powerful forms of collaboration, the pace and nature of interaction have become more advanced. Knowledge workers engage in ‘’peer-to-peer’’ knowledge sharing across organizational and company boundaries, forming networks of expertise. Businesses must engage in collaboration to survive.Collaboration extends to alliances of public (government) and private (commercial) teams to solve problems. An example of where knowledge is freely exchanged, with commercial value being realized is between open source Linux operating system and the Human Genome Project.

Knowledge Work Basics | Knowledge Workers | K-Work and Innovation | Frameworks for understanding K-Work | Discussion Points


Ikujiro Nonaka (1991) “The Knowledge Creating Company”, in Knowledge Management. Harvard Business School Press

Tapscott, Don and Anthony D. Williams (2006) Wikinomics. Penguin Group, New York. 324 p.



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