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5 Conclusions

The chapter started with the identification of some dimensions characterizing the milieu for knowledge creation when the perspective of a firm is taken (as a complement of other perspectives that consider different scales). These dimensions have been described leveraging some concepts and models that are currently used to investigate the theme of knowledge creation within organizations. The identified dimensions and the related concepts serve as a background for the understanding of how the ICT can influence the milieu where knowledge creation takes place: ICT is nowadays a fundamental component of this milieu and can deeply influence its capabilities in reaching this goal. The picture shows contrasting trends that are motivated by the complexity of the problem at hand whose solution requires a deep understanding of the local situations and work practices: this investment is often considered as too expensive and generic solutions are adopted by applying a less demanding approach—let's make something available and let's see what will happen. The true risk is that the endeavour to support knowledge creation and innovation (that however requires a relevant effort as it involves organizational and technological issues) will not generate an acceptable ROI since knowledge promoting technologies can be simply forgotten or easily circumvented if perceived as not fitting the local needs; thus they are unable to generate the critical mass that is required to make them effective for the people and the organization they should support. The limits of this approach is also testified by the kind of analysis that follows the introduction of the technology as it is reported in the scientific literature[1]: the most used parameters refer to quantitative indicators like the number of accesses for each offered functionality, or to generic qualitative indicators such as the user perception of the utility or usability of the system, although some more adequate approaches have been defined (Rao, 2005). There are no indicators to investigate the real impact of the new augmented milieu on knowledge promotion and creation within the organization: the impact could be positive or neutral but also negative as an inadequate technology can break the good work practices and their delicate mechanisms. This phenomenon should be recognized and contrasted as soon as it appears.

Then, the organization policy makers and the technology designers have a long way to go to keep the firm a knowledge creating milieu in front of the organizational and technological co-evolution. This co-evolution should lead to a milieu that is open without imposing uniformity; where things are not searched for but collaboratively constructed; where this construction is traced and made persistent as part of the common repertoire; where the real and the virtual coexist in a harmonic way, thus cleverly bringing the Internet of Things (Atzori, Iera, & Morabito, 2010) in the organizational ambit; where the technological and organizational support of information management, collaboration and knowledge creation is conceived as a unique entity, as a unique goal (Cabitza & Simone, 2012; Newell, Huang, Galliers,

& Pan, 2003).

  • [1] The results reported by other sources are in general biased in favour of the success of the initiatives, with little attention to a critical view of their outcomes
 
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