Learning from alliances: Knowledge management or "ignorance management'?

Common Ground Publishing
Publication Type:
Journal article
International Journal of Knowledge Culture and Change Management, 2005, 5 (1), pp. 155 - 164
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The past two decades have seen the emergence of a variety of strategic alliances in an attempt by organizations to cope with the demands of rapidly changing and complex environments. Initially, reasons for strategic alliances have been primarily economic or strategic risk sharing, market penetration, technology transfer or pooling resources. As the knowledge-based theory of the firm gained prominence, organizations have started realizing that knowledge is a critical resource for competitive advantage. Organizations have recently started paying more attention to processes that can enable inter-organizational learning and knowledge transfer. Research conducted so far regarding knowledge transfer between partners in strategic alliances clearly indicates that the transfer does not happen automatically and has to be managed. It also shows that managers may not be fully aware of how to facilitate knowledge transfer. The barriers to knowledge transfer are a complex mixture of issues covering organizational, social and technological factors as well as the nature of knowledge being shared. A review of the literature indicates that organizations do not seem to utilise tools created in the knowledge management field that can facilitate knowledge sharing. There is also a feeling among scholars that while organizations can develop strategies to exploit what they know, it is never possible to know everything that an organization needs and organizations should also learn how to manage their ignorance as well. This paper identifies some questions for knowledge management scholars and practitioners to carry out research in knowledge transfer and inter-organizational learning among strategic alliances.
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