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Long Range Planning

35/1 February 2002



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Charles Baden-Fuller Editorial

    Knowledge Integration
    In our twenty-first century economy the management of knowledge remains one of the most problematic issues. Most of us know how to create knowledge in our own area of expertise, but accessing the knowledge of others, and integrating across organisational boundaries is much more difficult. It involves others who hold differing capacities to explain and share what they hold, and different capabilities and motivations to integrate with others. This first issue of 2002 puts forward three perspectives of knowledge integration.

    Philipp Käser and Raymond Miles lead off with an outstanding piece that examines the role of knowledge activists in promoting the creation and sharing of knowledge across the organisation. They examine the ways organisations are experimenting with posts such as Chief Knowledge Officer operating at middle or senior levels. They identify the building of motivation and trust as key to knowledge integration and explain how these are built up over time.

    Adrian Hall and Pierpaolo Andriani examine how to fill knowledge gaps that arise from the difference between aspirations and existing capabilities in development programmes. Using an example from the telecom sector, they point out that it is often "platform knowledge" that is required and they explain how filling these gaps requires a mastery of knowledge integration.

    Colin Armistead and Magda Meakins suggest that organisations differ in their approach to the challenge of developing and integrating knowledge and they identify four patterns: prescribed, compliant, adaptive and self-determined. They explore the costs and benefits of each style, and the extent to which organisations can balance themselves between these different approaches.

    New Generation Co-operatives
    Jeffrey Katz and Michael Boland alert us to the importance of a new type of co-operatives and they explain why they are proving a serious challenge to other ways of organising. Using the example of US Premium Beef, they show how this hybrid organisation is able to mobilise the energy of customers without losing the benefits of modern corporate governance systems.

Executive Summaries

Knowledge Integration

Philipp Kaser and Raymond Miles Understanding Knowledge Activists' Successes and Failures phkaser@gmx.net

    Firms are increasingly turning to "knowledge activists" to promote information sharing and organisational innovation. This paper says that knowledge activists tend to succeed in facilitating knowledge sharing when they create "non-hierarchical" conditions that encourage intrinsic motivation – the enjoyment of knowledge sharing for its own sake, within a trusting relationship. The authors offer a conceptual framework that suggests how motivation and trust may interact within a set of hierarchical and non-hierarchical organisational relationships and they then apply this framework in analysing the successes and failures of knowledge activists in various organisational settings.

Richard Hall and Pierpaolo Andriani Managing Knowledge for Innovation richard.hall@durham.ac.uk

    New technologies offer new opportunities, but also the risk of knowledge gaps as an organisation seeks keep abreast of innovation. The authors of this paper have identified a technique for knowledge management that analyses risk and identifies the key processes that need to be initiated. Using a case study of a UK mobile telephone that was seeking to make a "technology push" by introducing an innovative network, the authors identified the knowledge gaps which had to be bridged and where the knowledge management processes should be applied.

Colin Armistead and Magda Meakins A Framework for Practicing Knowledge Management carmistead@bournemouth.ac.uk

    Knowledge management therefore has come to the fore as a notion of how organisations can create, use and protect one of their most valuable intangible assets. Based on interviews of the knowledge management activities in seven organisations that span the service and industrial sectors, the authors drew up a theoretical matrix which presents four different approaches to knowledge management. The advantages of each are discussed and the paper concludes by drawing up a list of key issues that should be addressed by knowledge programmes.

New Generation Co-operatives

Jeffrey Katz and Michael Boland One for All and All for One? A New Generation of Cooperatives Emerges jkatz@ksu.edu

    A new generation of co-operatives is sweeping through several industries. The traditional co-operative ownership structure, which has existed for more than 100 years and has been commonplace in sectors such as agribusiness and insurance, can be been found wanting in its ability to respond to external environmental pressures. These vehicles of collective action can be hindered by the interests of their owner/members and by a cumbersome decision-making process. Emerging instead is a hybrid of the traditional co-operative and the typical investor-owned firm. This new generation is combining aspects of each type of organisation to form a body that is neither open to everyone interested in joining nor based on the one-person one-vote principle. In addition, many newly-formed co-operatives do not limit their organisation to a single purpose or line of business. This article examines why such an evolution is taking place and what extent the hybridisation process is likely to reach. The more entrepreneurial approach that the new generation of co-operatives provides is illustrated in the case study of US Premium Beef, an organisation with a value-added competitive strategy. The authors also argue that there are managerial implications of these emerging organisations: the pace of their formation is likely to continue, as it is essentially a response to turbulent external factors. The article also predicts that future co-operatives will be smaller and more nimble than their predecessors and will pursue new strategic directions.

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