2. Knowledge and knowledge spillovers – Intentional and Unintentional knowledge sharing
In module “7.1 – Ability to share knowledge and ideas internally within organisation – what is knowledge” we have explored the knowledge creation process, how socialization is crucial to the knowledge creation process through knowledge and ideas exchange and how we can foster knowledge and ideas exchange inside of our organization. Throughout all of these dynamics there seems to be an intentional purpose of sharing knowledge and ideas. But the constant flow of information, knowledge, and ideas in which we live every day is not made of either intentional knowledge sharing or unimportant information. Knowledge can also be shared unintentionally. And this is also something that you need to be aware of.
Source: https://pixabay.com/pt/illustrations/marca-marcador-m%c3%a3o-escrever-1577987/ (photo by Gerd Altman)
Informal or unintentional knowledge transfer between organizations, also known as knowledge spillovers, complements knowledge sharing through formal collaborations. This is the type of knowledge from which organizations benefit although they didn’t invest in it. As this form of knowledge transfer is highly associated with a face-to-face interaction it’s also highly related with spatial proximity of the organizations. The knowledge transfer tends to decrease as distance increases. With the fast evolution of the information and communication technologies, one can argue how physical distance can actually be an obstacle to the knowledge and ideas transfer but evidence show that the impact of the communications technologies is still low when it comes to the informal knowledge exchange.
With whom do you have a more frequent contact and interaction, with people from organizations nearby or with people with organizations located far away from you?
But distance is not just a matter of geography. We can talk of different types of proximity:
- Social and cultural;
Social and cultural proximity
Social and cultural proximity relates to the similarities in terms of behaviour patterns, cultural affinity, trust, sense of belonging
Relationship proximity relates to the capability of cooperation between territories and organizations. If you think about the range of external partners you work with, e.g., suppliers, your level of proximity with these partners are not related with their geographical proximity but with the relations you have established with them.
Technological proximity relates with the similarity between regions and organizations at the level of the productive specialization and the location of the productive sectors.
Cognitive proximity relates with capabilities and skills belonging to a common knowledge base. It can be highly related with the capacity to “speak” a common language, understood by all the engaged parties.
Source: https://pixabay.com/pt/photos/m%c3%a3os-terra-pr%c3%b3xima-gera%c3%a7%c3%a3o-4091879/ (image by Gerd Altman)
The different types of distance and proximity can also have a different impact in the ability to foster knowledge exchange and absorption.
While geographic and cognitive distance have a higher impact in the ability to exchange and retain knowledge; relational, technological and social proximity have a higher impact in the effectiveness of the knowledge dissemination.
It’s also important to understand that also the profile of the regions where organizations are located impact the levels of proximity. One simple example of this is the location of higher education institutions (HEI). If your organization is located in a city with a university the opportunities to interact and exchange ideas and knowledge with this organization will be more frequent and considered normal. If your organization is located in a city with no HEI nearby, probably, you will miss the opportunities to engage in knowledge and ideas exchange with these types of organizations.
In the scope of the external relations and interactions of your organization, as well as according to the different operations and areas of activity, you’ll can find different types of proximity with different stakeholders – customers, suppliers, peers, experts, competitors, etc.
So, as you can see, when talking about knowledge and ideas sharing, there’s a huge ecosystem in which both your organization and your people operate and interact that represents a wide range of possibilities for knowledge exchange, being it intentional and for which you invest, or unintentional.
To be able to share knowledge and ideas it’s crucial the use of a COMMON LANGUAGE.
To be able to effectively share and acquire new knowledge one needs to understand what is being shared.