Practices and knowing in transnational knowledge-intensive service provision

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Human Relations, 2019, 72 (12), pp. 1948 - 1972
Issue Date:
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© The Author(s) 2019. How do professionals at different locations within a firm collaborate to provide services across borders? This article addresses how knowledge-intensive service provisions are coordinated across borders, time zones and expertise. Empirical material from two engineering firms providing services to a global customer base are analysed, comprising over 100 interviews and over 20 days of observation. Concepts from practice theory are used, locating questions of knowledge in the realm of practical action. Findings describe how transnational services are enacted through prefigured and emergent practices. The problem of coordinating transnational practices is considered as a matter of balanced acting between these contrasting forms of work. This is explored in terms of the forms of knowledge that are in play – nuancing practical understanding into specific notions of know-how, know-what, know-who, know-why and know-where/when. Connecting this array of knowledge forms with balanced acting between prefigured and emergent practices extends theorizations of transnational knowledge-intensive firms, and casts new light on how the widespread problem of coordination can be addressed.
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