All Aboard the Knowledge Express… Next Stop Miami?

Not to worry cohorts, The Tacit Saga will indeed continue and inevitably conclude, but until then I’d like to spend some time sharing and reflecting on a couple articles I’ve recently read…

Authors Argote and Ingram (2000) and Brown and Duguide (1991) may have published their work almost a decade apart, but the connective tissue embedded in each article was highly evident. The basic connective premise of the respective articles was the idea of knowledge transfer and how the participate members and surrounding contexts utilize shared knowledge as a means to formulate and perpetuate community. While Argote and Ingram (2000) break down knowledge transfer as a concept to be used to analyze competitive advantage within organzations, Brown and Duguide (1991) focus more so on the idea of shared knowledge as a component of learning and practice within an organization. Through their research processes and conceptual development, however, several connections can be found. Before I uncover these connections I’d like to explain a few interesting points and then use a real life experience to help explain the overarching theme I’ve eluded to in the blog’s title.
I guess the best place to start is from the beginning of the chosen articles, the first of which was Argote and Ingram’s (2000) Knowledge Transfer: A Basis for Competitive Advantage in Firms.  In the article the authors define knowledge transfer as;

“The process through which one unit is affected by the experience of another.” (p. 151)

The authors build on this definition throughout the article as they continue their examination of knowledge transfer and note an observation that sparked even more of an interest than the others. Argote and Ingram (2000) write,
“When people are moved to a new context to transfer knowledge, they become “minorities” in the context of the majority at the new site.” (p. 164)
This conclusion drew a greater interest than the others because it offered support to research I conducted as a communication undergrad which primarily focused on how communication and cultural diversity can create a community separate from the whole of a larger population. As I mentioned in one of my weekly tweets, the instance in which I focused on the insider/outsider phenomenon was that of the Cuban population in Miami FL, where I (as the researcher and observer) was suddenly the minority in a community and culture highly dissimilar from my own in Kentucky, where I had been the majority for my entire life. Although my previous study only lasted one week, with the additional observations and conclusions provided by Argote and Ingram (2000) I would have been able to expand my conclusion a bit further. Like many who travel and live for an extended amount of time in another country, individuals often adapt culturally to new contexts. Knowledge transfer is almost inevitable if someone is truly willing to submerse themselves into a community where they often become the minority of a new context.

Even though Argote and Ingram (2000) focus much of their research on organizations and firms I believe their research would lend as excellent support for cultural knowledge transfer as well, including the transfers of language, customs, and lifestyle as people travel and live in other countries. It would also be particularly interesting to examine the motivation for this type of knowledge transfer (i.e. motivated by necessity vs. motivated by desire) and if the transfer is almost inevitable within these contexts.

I guess that just about does it for this entry but stay tuned, an examination of Brown and Duguide (1991) is soon to follow!


The Tacit Saga (Part One of Two)

And suddenly I awoke without any sense of my whereabouts. Had I been asleep or had I fallen out of consciousness by a more dangerous circumstance I am not sure. The room, or maybe lair, carries a chilling, damp air under the cover of pitch black darkness. The ground is hard, cold and slick to the touch. As I stand and gather my bearings I turn around and notice a small light. As I draw closer, the light expands into an opening, a doorway in fact. Unlike the frigid room from which I hope to escape there is warmth emitting from the door ahead. The knob is even warm to the touch. I hesitate for only a moment taking a deep breath as I push the door open.
As mysteriously as the door appeared it vanishes into thin air. My eyes take a moment to adjust to the vast scape of what lies beyond. The environment is indescribable. Nay unexplainable with simple vernacular. My lack of understanding about this new and intriguing place is somehow my first clue to where I have traveled. Slowly but surely my mind conjures a singular explanation. I have entered what I had only believed as tall tale, a dimension, separate from the one I once knew. Legend speaks of this place as the Tacit Dimension.
The once comforting warmth of my surrounding soon becomes an unbearable weight, slowing my vein exploration with each passing minute. Or has it been hours? Time seems to be without measure, and therefore highly relative in the tacit dimension. Direction and geography seem this way too. No matter how far I travel, I seem to have only taken a few steps. A feeling begins to rise in my gut. Anxiety mixed with fear, as potent as emotions can become. I may truly be lost, trapped here until my end. Soon my story will join the many others left untold. Not a moment passes from this thought when a voice, as calm and reassuring as any, calls out,
“If you’re looking for the Jamba Juice, you’re not going to find it. They closed up shop just a few months ago. Some idiot sued, it’s as whole big thing.”
At first I wasn’t sure where the voice had originated but then spontaneously, a man, sharply dressed and older in age appears close by, bearing a slight grin.
Based on the questionable yet genuine nature of the man’s expression, it took me a couple extra seconds to understand he was of course joking. He seemed to notice his comments caught me off guard so he stretched the smile a little further,
“Just thought I’d have a little fun. Not to worry, I know exactly where you need to         go.”
“Where I need to go?” I responded, exponentially more puzzled than before.
“To leave of course, to find your way out of the tacit dimension.” He paused allowing additional moments to pass in order for his statements to process, as if he had experienced this same reaction before.
“That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? To ultimately leave, possibly with a better understanding of this place than when you arrived?”
My brain begins to churn a hasty response, “Why, yes of course! But how are you able to help? Are you not just as lost as I am?”
The man pauses, almost as if he was trying to decipher the seriousness of my response and then bursts with laughter.
“Me? Lost? Far from it my boy,” he bellows out.
“Maybe I should introduce myself, I believe we started off on a very confusing foot.” The man reaches out his hand,
“My name is Polanyi, and this, as you may well know, is the tacit dimension, of which I have created, and I intend to help you find your way back to your reality. Now follow me!”
For being an older fellow, Polanyi sure has a pep in his step. He quickly turns and springs into a healthy stride, on course from what I hoped might be a quick exit, although my gut seemed to be convinced otherwise.