Knowledge Across Boundaries:
Managing Knowledge in Distributed Organizations

Claudio U. CIBORRA
Rafael ANDREU

London School of Economics
IESE

Abstract

Practical solutions to the issues related to the strategic use of knowledge and its management depend upon the relevant organizational context. Using the model of the learning ladder, that is a compact way of describing the links between organizational knowledge acquisition processes, three different situations are explored. First, the single firm and the governance of its internal knowledge processes performed according to the resource-based view of strategy. Second, the gain of quasi-rents by managing the transfer and creation of unique knowledge between allied firms (relational rents). Finally, some key features of how knowledge is managed among a variety of interdependent organizations and individuals are explored with reference to the open source software. Such a business points to behaviors and performances that seem to contradict the principles of knowledge management inspired by the resource-based view of the single firm and its strategy. This is puzzling, since such strategic principles germane to the celebration of knowledge in organizations seem to break down precisely when considering knowledge intensive businesses.

To appear in "Strategic Management of Intellectual Capital and Organizational Knowledge" edited by Nick Bontis & Chun Wei Choo (Oxford University Press).