Internal diversity in knowledge intensive organizations

In 2005, I wrote my first academic conference papers. At that time, we had a big research project studying knowledge and information management in knowledge intensive services. We aimed to apply complexity theories. Memories grow sweeter with time.

Why am I telling this to you now in 2016?

Because a paper we wrote back then with my colleague is month after month my most viewed paper in Academia.edu. Our paper was titled “The management of internal diversity in knowledge intensive organizations”.

Why this particular paper keeps popping up in searchers? Probably there is some wisdom in our approach, although we were not ready and capable of delivering a high quality research paper.

Maybe the popularity of this particular paper also tells something about the times we live today. Diversity, both internal and external, has increased and we are still seeking ways to respond. If not manage, to handle and adapt. Why? Because diversity is considered as the source of innovativeness, adaptability, and the foundation of competitiveness.

The paper seeks to offer a way to see diversity as a natural and unavoidable characteristic of knowledge intensive organizations. We approached diversity from the perspective of social interaction, that is, communication and knowledge flow.

We saw knowledge flows as mechanisms trough which, we can influence and control the outcome, that is, diversity.

As the main outcome of the paper, we composed a knowledge flow cube (yes, I know, a funny name for a conceptual framework). But we just loved it.

This frame conceptualized organizations based on their information flows. Four basic categories were derived: bureaucratic, communal, professional and adhocratic. Each has different information structures, knowledge flows and require different (knowledge) management approaches.

I still agree.

Have you ever thought about your organization from the perspective of knowledge flows? What are the critical inflows, outflows, and how does knowledge flow within your organization? Maybe you should have thought about that a little more. Is there room for improvement?

The particular paper I mentioned in the beginning does not deliver final answers but it started a journey. The same basic ideas are still there in my thinking. I have written better papers on the topic since, but it is always nice to think back and see that your ideas are still valid.

Certain papers keep popping up year after year. And sometimes you have very little control over the process. For me, it seems that our research questions have not been solved and that quite a many people still are interested in the same questions we did a decade ago. I believe that diversity calls for dialogue.

I’ve noticed that this seems be the cycle in which research topics rise from the ashes. New researchers and persons in charge of research finance step in and the wheel spins around for its next ten-year period.

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