Power of Collective Knowledge

Yesterday  had some beautiful discussion on Collective Knowledge. Collective knowledge is the complete knowledge, including explicit and implicit, which resides with the employees of organisation.

Again the collective knowledge can be classified into collective explicit and collective implicit knowledge. The collective explicit knowledge which has been termed as encoded knowledge by some and few have termed it as objectified knowledge is said to be easily accessible & transferred among employees as the same can be stored. Collective implicit knowledge which is formed by explicit and implicit knowledge of the group has been called as tacit routines by Ambrosini, embedded knowledge by Blackler and Lam and socio cultural knowledge by Castillo and collective knowledge by Spender. It is understood that the objective of implicit is to allow users to grow but not to replace their thinking.

Collective implicit knowledge, which can be articulated and but due to constraints cannot be stored hence is only available as an implicit knowledge to a group. This availability depends how well a “seeker” is connected and knows the “knowledge holder”.

Blackler distinguishes a further subset of collective knowledge. In his study in mid 90s, “Knowledge, Knowledge Work and Organizations: An Overview and Interpretation, Organizational Studies”, expanded the knowledge types which were proposed by Collins earlier in the decade, viz.

1. Embrained knowledge is dependent on conceptual skills and cognitive abilities. It more of ‘knowing that’ than ‘knowing how’. It required synthesizing personal insights models, system thinking and have shared visions of organizational learning
This knowledge is considered to be highly practical, high-level knowledge, where objectives are met through perpetual recognition and revamping. Tacit knowledge may also be embrained, even though it is mainly subconscious.

2. Embodied knowledge is action oriented and consists of contextual practices. It more of ‘knowing how’ and social acquisition. This tacit knowledge is formed by interaction among individuals and how they interpret their environment.

3. Encultured knowledge is the process of achieving shared understandings through socialization and acculturation, which refers specifically to the knowledge that individuals hold about the cultural or social norms regarding how to behave or interact with others in the group in specific situations. This type of tacit knowledge in an enterprise is represented in practices and language.

4. Embedded knowledge is explicit and resides within systematic routines and maybe ritualized. It relates to the relationships between roles, technologies, formal procedures and emergent routines within a complex system.

5. Encoded knowledge is information that is conveyed in signs and symbols and represented textually and digitally. This knowledge is decontextualized and abstract. Rather than being a specific type of knowledge, it deals more with the transmission, storage and interrogation of knowledge.

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