An analysis of knowledge in practice during organisational transformation : a task-based perspective of a post-acquisition integration case.

2017-01-16T04:13:23Z (GMT) by Zanner, Richard Andreas
In today's globalised world in which traditional resources are easily accessed by firms, knowledge is recognised as a source of sustainable competitive advantage. Unlike other resources, knowledge is unique, highly contextual and inimitable and cannot be easily acquired and traded. It is a dynamic resource-a social process, deeply integrated in very complex ways into the work of organisations. Another distinguishing feature of this globalised world is change-unprecedented, rapid change is taking place in markets, technologies and in customer demands. Product lifecycles are shorter and business is becoming ever more competitive. Firms must likewise be able to change-those that fail to adapt cannot survive. Occasionally, this entails transformation of an organisation into a form, more suited to its environment. Previous research has considered both knowledge in organisations, and organisational transformation independently, through several disciplines. This thesis examines the critical juncture of these important elements-the management of knowledge during organisational transformation from the perspective of knowledge management. Using interpretive case fieldwork, the heart of a company acquisition is examined-the integration process. Its associated radical change provides a unique site of compositional breakdown at which the elements of knowledge in practice are exposed. As the structures and processes in which knowledge is embedded are disturbed, the research uncovers the social mechanisms through which an organisation manages the continuity of its knowledge. The limitations of technology in facilitating aspects of continuity are revealed. Key findings relate to: a) the critical role of knowledge during organisational transformation; b) the important functions of a community of practice; c) technological limitations in facilitating knowledge continuity; d) the contributions of tool development for knowledge work and the role of tools in organisational transformation; and e) the development of dynamic capabilities during organisational transformation. The research contributes to the discipline of information systems and KM. Recommendations are also presented for merger and acquisition practice. In today's globalised world in which traditional resources are easily accessed by firms, knowledge is recognised as a source of sustainable competitive advantage. Unlike other resources, knowledge is unique, highly contextual and inimitable and cannot be easily acquired and traded. It is a dynamic resource-a social process, deeply integrated in very complex ways into the work of organisations. Another distinguishing feature of this globalised world is change-unprecedented, rapid change is taking place in markets, technologies and in customer demands. Product lifecycles are shorter and business is becoming ever more competitive. Firms must likewise be able to change-those that fail to adapt cannot survive. Occasionally, this entails transformation of an organisation into a form, more suited to its environment. Previous research has considered both knowledge in organisations, and organisational transformation independently, through several disciplines. This thesis examines the critical juncture of these important elements-the management of knowledge during organisational transformation from the perspective of knowledge management. Using interpretive case fieldwork, the heart of a company acquisition is examined-the integration process. Its associated radical change provides a unique site of compositional breakdown at which the elements of knowledge in practice are exposed. As the structures and processes in which knowledge is embedded are disturbed, the research uncovers the social mechanisms through which an organisation manages the continuity of its knowledge. The limitations of technology in facilitating aspects of continuity are revealed. Key findings relate to: a) the critical role of knowledge during organisational transformation; b) the important functions of a community of practice; c) technological limitations in facilitating knowledge continuity; d) the contributions of tool development for knowledge work and the role of tools in organisational transformation; and e) the development of dynamic capabilities during organisational transformation. The research contributes to the discipline of information systems and KM. Recommendations are also presented for merger and acquisition practice.