Belief-driven sensemaking : arguing as knowledge creation

Smit, Marietjie (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-03)

Abstract

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Organizational Knowledge Creation is a core activity of Knowledge Intensive Organizations. In the area of Knowledge Management, a number of theories have been developed about organizational knowledge and how this knowledge is developed and leveraged. The majority of these theories share a taxonomic approach to organizational knowledge and usually describe the various kinds of knowledge found in organizations and how these different kinds of knowledge interact. These descriptions represent the mainstream view of Knowledge Management and typically a contingency argument is made for matching types of knowledge with a particular organizational design, management style, or strategy for managing the various kinds of knowledge content. Parallel to the development of Knowledge Management theory is the development of Organization Theory likening organizations to interpretation or sensemaking systems. Knowledge also stands central in these theories of organization, but knowledge is viewed as a collective accomplishment intertwined with organizational practices. It is therefore clear that the Knowledge Creation perspective belongs to a different worldview from the Sensemaking perspective regarding organization. The thesis seeks to bridge the divide between these two different views of organization by describing the Knowledge Creation process in terms of the Sensemaking worldview. It accomplishes this by critically reviewing the mainstream theories of Knowledge Creation. Next organizational Sensemaking is described, focusing on the context of everyday organizational Sensemaking and in particular on Arguing as a Sensemaking process. It is proposed that Arguing is a process that creates new knowledge. Viewing Knowledge Creation through the lens of Sensemaking as Arguing addresses a perennial issue in the mainstream Knowledge Management theory, namely the justification of newly created knowledge to ensure that it is robust, without giving up on a pluralist epistemology in favour of an objective view of knowledge. Arguing is a site where claims are made, challenged, and defended. The Sensemaking process of Arguing therefore provides a description of the Knowledge Creation process which includes knowledge justification. In addition, a Sensemaking view of Knowledge Creation takes as its model social interaction, rather than linear product development and is therefore much closer to the everyday process of innovation as incremental improvement than the radical innovation process that inspired most theories of Knowledge Creation in the Knowledge Management literature.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Organisatoriese kennis-skepping is ‘n kern aktiwiteit van Kennis-intensiewe Ondernemings. ‘n Aantal teorieë is ontwikkel in die veld van Kennisbestuur wat handel oor organisatoriese kennis en hoe hierdie kennis ontwikkel en benut word. Die meerderheid van hierdie teorieë deel ‘n taksonomiese benadering tot organisatoriese kennis en beskryf gewoonlik die verskillende soorte kennis wat in organisasies gevind word en hoe hierdie soorte kennis verband hou. Hierdie benadering verteenwoordig die hoofstroom-siening van Kennisbestuur en lei tipies tot ‘n kontingensie argument vir die pas van tipes kennis by spesifieke organisasie ontwerpe, bestuurstyle, of strategieë vir die bestuur van verskillende soorte kennis-inhoude. Parallel tot die ontwikkeling van Kennisbestuursteorie het daar in Organisasie Teorie ontwikkelinge plaasgevind wat organisasies benader as interpretasie— of singewingsisteme. Kennis staan ook sentraal in hierdie teorieë van organisasie, maar kennis word gesien as ‘n kollektiewe totstandbrenging wat verweefd is met die praktyke in organisasies. Dit is dus duidelik dat die Kennis-skeppingsbenadering en die Singewingsperspektief organisasies met verskillende wêreldbeelde benader. Die tesis poog om die kloof tussen hierdie twee wêreldbeelde te oorbrug deur die proses van Kennis-skepping te beskryf vanuit die perspektief van Singewing. Dit word gedoen deur die hoofstroom Kennisbestuursteorie krities te beskou. Daarna word Organisatoriese Singewing beskryf deur spesifiek te fokus op die alledaagse konteks van Organisatoriese Singewing en spesifiek op Argumentering as ‘n Singewingsproses. Daar word aangevoer dat Argumentering die proses is waardeur nuwe kennis geskep word. ‘n Singewingsperspektief op Kennis-skepping het ‘n aantal voordele. Die fokus op Argumentering spreek ‘n leemte in Kennisbestuursteorie aan, naamlik die proses waardeur nuutgeskepte kennis geregverdig word om te verseker dat dit robuust is, sonder om die pluralistiese epistemologie van Kennisbestuursteorie te laat vaar. Argumentering is ‘n proses waardeur aansprake gemaak, uitgedaag en verdedig word. Die perspektief op Singwing as Argumentering bied dus ‘n beskrywing van Kennis-skepping wat die regverdiging van kennis insluit. Verder neem die Singewingsperspektief op Kennis-skepping sosiale interaksie as basismodel eerder as die lineêre produk-ontwikkelingsperspektief. Dit is dus nader aan die alledaagse prosesse van inkrementele verbetering as die radikale innovasie-prosesse wat die inspirasie vir hoofstroom Kennis-skeppingsteorie is.

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

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