Contextual Variations in Knowledge Management

Charles Despres
Daniele Chauvel*

Graduate School of Business

*: The Theseus Institute


Unsurprisingly, Knowledge Management is a pool of intellectual cross currents that meet, mix, or simply swirl about in isolated eddies. This state of affairs is expected in the sociology of an emerging body of knowledge, as is the corollary - that a mainstream will form along dominant lines of thought. This chapter begins by outlining the blooming, buzzing confusion that Knowledge Management was in the mid-1990s. It then sketches the mainstream thinking around which the field is now organizing itself by specifying the models and classification systems found in the thinking and discourse of academics, consultants and practitioners. From this we extract seven (7) epistemological devices that structure the thinking of mainstream members: Time; Types, Forms, Embodiments; Social Space; Context; Transformations and Dynamics; Carriers and Media; and Knowledge Culture. The last section projects the next likely development: that Knowledge Management will recognize the naivete of its homogenous world assumption and adopt a contingency approach to the complexities of contextual variation.

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