How do we think about creating and sharing knowledge in organizations?

In my experience in teaching the course MSLOC 430 Creating and Sharing Knowledge, I have come to more deeply appreciate the first third of the course, where we explore different points of view about organizational knowledge, learning and technology.

Here is the basic storyline of the course, in thirds:

  • Let’s take a look at how we might more critically think about learning and knowledge sharing within organizations, through technology.
  • Let’s explore some models of how practitioners are currently using networks and technology for organizational learning and knowledge sharing.
  • Now let’s take a shot at designing our own solutions to some common organizational challenges, integrating all that we’ve learned.

The first third is driven by a set of readings that really are designed to raise questions to challenge assumptions.

  • If knowledge is not just something that exists in explicit form – books, documents, answers in online discussions, etc. – then what is it?
  • If knowledge also is not simply something that resides in an individual’s head, and learning is not simply something that involves a process inside an individual’s head – then how is it that knowledge and learning are socially constructed?
  • What makes a learning or knowledge sharing community a “community,” and not just a network or collection of individuals?
  • If technology doesn’t determine how we behave or interact – then how is it that people and technology mutually create what happens in social software platforms?

Below are some of the readings we are currently using to get at these questions. Granted, it is a big ask of students to wrestle with these topics in the first 3-4 weeks of a course. But we get into some really great debates and discussions.

The intention is to get everyone to a point where they begin to recognize that all technology practices and solutions are based on a point-of-view or assumption. And those assumptions may or may not be entirely productive.

Here are the current readings that lead us through these topics:

  • Hislop, D. (2013) The Objectivist Perspective on Knowledge, in Knowledge Management in Organizations (Chapt. 2, pp 17-30). New York: Oxford University Press (3rd Ed.)
  • Hislop, D. (2013) The Practice Based Perspective of Knowledge, in Knowledge Management in Organizations (Chapt. 3, pp 31-46). New York: Oxford University Press (3rd Ed.)
  • Brandi & Elkjaer (2011) Organizational Learning Viewed from a Social Learning Perspective, in Handbook of Org Learning and Knowledge Management
  • Treem, J., & Leonardi, P. (2012). Social Media Use in Organizations Exploring the Affordances of Visibility, Editability, Persistence, and Association. Communication Yearbook, 36, 143–189.
  • Majchrzak, A., Faraj, S., Kane, G. C., & Azad, B. (2013). The Contradictory Influence of Social Media Affordances on Online Communal Knowledge Sharing. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(1)
  • Sun, N., Rau, P. P.-L., & Ma, L. (2014). Understanding lurkers in online communities: A literature review. Computers in Human Behavior, 38, 110–117.
  • Wenger, E (2010) Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems: The Career of a Concept in C. Blackmore (Ed.) Social Learning Systems and Communities of Practice. (pp 179-197) London: Springer-Verlag
  • Cross, R., Kaše, R., Kilduff, M., & King, Z. (2013). Bridging the Gap between Research and Practice in Organizational Network Analysis: A Conversation between Rob Cross and Martin Kilduff. Human Resource Management, 52(4), 627–644.
  • Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2010). The first decade of the community of inquiry framework: A retrospective. The Internet and Higher Education, 13(1–2), 5–9.


Note: This post is one of a series I am writing about the points-of-view and concepts used in a course I co-teach – MSLOC 430 Creating and Sharing Knowledge. 

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