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Berglund, Helena, 2014. What do you know about knowledge? : perspectives on knowledge and knowledge communication at ICA´s department for social and environmental responsibilities. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



This thesis presents two ways of perceiving knowledge, the post positivistic or knowledge as a “thing” and the social constructivist way with cultivated communities of practice. The post positivistic school of thought views knowledge as a thing that is more or less static and movable. Knowledge can be put down in writing and will be received and interpreted the same by different people. The cultivated communities of practice on the other hand see knowledge as something constructed that is changing depending on the situation and the group. This cultivated communities of practice, are providing organizations with increased
competitive advantages according to the researchers Wenger et al. (2002) and Liedtka (1999).

Using cultivated CoP will give organizations a structured and inclusive way of managing knowledge that helps them adjust the knowledge to each unique situation. In a time where: “An organization’s ultimate product is its knowledge in relation to its competitors” (Kochan, 2004) it is important that an organization starts reflecting over how it views knowledge and what consequences that perspective can have. The social constructivist perspective could
argue that the difficulties with the post positivistic way of viewing knowledge is that it is not context specific, and does not take into consideration that knowledge is not static. As the view and way of working with knowledge can affect the organization it is important to reflect over
ones understanding of knowledge.

My aim has been to look closer at ICA’s social and environmental (SER) department and study how they are working together and how they view knowledge, and then to see what the possible outcome, theoretically, could be if they would start rethinking knowledge through the CoP lens.
After conducting semi-structured interviews with four members of the SER department I concluded that SER view knowledge, and work with knowledge in a post positivistic way.

Their way of viewing knowledge can make it difficult for the staff or the department to share and communicate their capabilities and their skills, internally and externally.
My view is that the SER department would benefit greatly from doing some work on their views of knowledge, and to introduce cultivated CoP. By reflecting on how they view
knowledge they can start to develop a more structured way of managing knowledge. If the SER department can start thinking of knowledge as inclusive, contextually dependent and socially constructivistic there could be competitive advantages in the form of faster decision making, more engaged team members that are more aware of their own and other team members´ capabilities. This makes the organization better equipped to work with a variety of
skills and situations. Something that is becoming ever more important in our fast paced, information rich and ever changing society.

Main title:What do you know about knowledge?
Subtitle:perspectives on knowledge and knowledge communication at ICA´s department for social and environmental responsibilities
Authors:Berglund, Helena
Supervisor:Westberg, Lotten
Examiner:Hallgren, Lars
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2014
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM026 Environmental communication and management - Master's programme
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:knowledge, competitive advantages, cultivated communities of practice, post positivistic, knowledge management
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Agricultural research
Social sciences, humanities and education
Deposited On:18 Jun 2014 11:58
Metadata Last Modified:18 Jun 2014 11:58

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