When and how to facilitate the introduction of new knowledge processes in organisations

Publication Type:
Journal Article
VINE, 2014, 44 (2), pp. 210 - 227
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to present two case studies hosted between 2012 and 2013 by Woolworths Limited with recommendations to address the question of why has implementing new processes into well-established organisations proved to be problematical. Design/methodology/approach - The research framework used is a novel synthesis of actor-network theory (ANT) with Miller's living systems theory (LST). Systems at each LST level are actors in an actor-network. Higher LST-level actors punctualise lower-level actor-networks, enabling the fine-grained study of dynamic associations within the LST structure. Qualitative measures assess the collaboration's progress. Findings - Gaps were found between teams' capabilities to implement new processes and that required to meet expectations. There were three contributors to the gap: first, knowledge flow was inhibited by social network structural holes; second, a reliance on tacit knowledge made identifying training needs difficult; and third, high utilisation of experts reduced their effectiveness. Research limitations/implications - The nature of logistics means that findings need careful validation before application to other business contexts. Larger studies will benefit from computer mediation for parsing and characterising associations, and computational modelling will be required for validating scenarios that cannot be performed or repeated with human actors. Practical implications - Recommendations for early identification of new ideas that require facilitation will help organisations enhance their adaptability and maintain their competitive advantage in a changing marketplace. Originality/value - The synthesis of ANT with LST provides collaboration researchers with an adaptable framework that combines a focus on dynamic associations within the context of complex social interactions.
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