Describes a four-quadrant framework for managing social interactions: sharing, collaboration, negotiation, and competition. The framework extends knowledge management beyond the domain of compatible goals to include conflicting goals.
Social Interaction: Beyond Compatible Goals
Albert J. Simard
Defence Research & Development Canada
Understanding the context within which social interactions take place is central to successful knowledge
management. This chapter describes a four-quadrant social interaction framework: sharing, collaboration,
negotiation, and competition that is compatible with the Cynefin sense-making framework. The four
quadrants are based on participant interests (mutual or autonomous) and participant goals (compatible or
Knowledge management traditionally assumes an ideal world of compatible goals with a primary task of
encouraging sharing and collaboration. This framework considers how knowledge management can
support knowledge work in an environment of conflicting goals which is the norm rather than the
exception for most organizations. For example, the classic struggle between the needs of information
technology and those of business managers are best resolved through negotiation while increasing market
share is clearly a competitive process. The framework applies equally to individuals, groups, or
organizations, although the underlying methods of influencing each social level are different.
Social interactions must be classified in the proper quadrant because the goals of each quadrant are
different, the work processes vary considerably, as do the knowledge services needed to support them.
In addition to sharing and collaboration, knowledge services can support the development of negotiating
positions and the production of competitive intelligence. The social interaction framework expands the
domain of compatible goals - the foundation of traditional knowledge management – to incompatible
goals which underlie a majority of real-world organizational activity.
The flow of information and knowledge across internal and external organizational boundaries depends,
to a large extent, on trust among individuals, groups, and organizations. Trust, in turn, depends on the
social context (attitudes, behavior, relationships, and culture). As the social context becomes more
conducive to sharing and collaboration, knowledge flows more readily. Ideally, organizations should
manage their social context to promote creativity, engage people, and facilitate trust. Without mutual
values, such as trust, openness, equality of participation, and encouragement of diversity, knowledge
work cannot achieve its full potential.
In the real world, trust ranges from high, through unknown, to mistrust. Similarly, the social context
ranges from conducive, through neutral, to hostile. Yet organizations have to accomplish their objectives
regardless of the level of trust or the social context. For example, Simard and Jourdeuil (2012) showed
that the classic struggle between the needs of information technology and those of business managers are
best resolved through negotiation.
The diversity of social contexts underlies a four-quadrant social interaction framework comprising:
sharing, collaboration, negotiation, and competition (Figure 1). The quadrants are based on participant
interests (mutual or autonomous) and participant goals (compatible or conflicting).
management normally assumes an ideal world of compatible goals and a primary task of encouraging
sharing and collaboration. The quadrant boundaries are deliberately curved to indicate that they are not
hard and fast, but rather are subject to interpretation. The social interaction framework significantly
expands knowledge management by considering knowledge work involving conflicting goals. The
framework applies equally to individuals, groups, or organizations, although the underlying methods of
influencing each social level are different. This chapter provides an overview of the social interaction
framework. It identifies work processes and knowledge services that are described in detail by Simard.1
Interactions must be properly classified because the processes used in each quadrant vary considerably, as
do the corresponding knowledge services needed to support them. Thinking that one is collaborating
when, in fact, the other party is looking to acquire internal knowledge can lead to inadvertently sharing
important proprietary or classified information. Thinking that the opposite party is negotiating when, in
fact, they are attempting to gain market share or intelligence about internal processes can negatively
impact competitiveness or security.
Sharing leverages the value of existing knowledge. Management is relatively passive in that sharing can
be encouraged, facilitated, and supported but it cannot be effectively mandated. Examples of sharing
include conversations, posting a document on a web site, and publication. Although compliance may be
required, it generally results in minimal sharing - just enough to avoid negative consequences. Moderate
trust is needed by providers that they will receive credit for their work and recipients won’t use their
material inappropriately. The environment is relatively benign in that knowledge workers are encouraged
to both provide content for use by others and use content provided by others. It is also supportive in that
technology and systems are provided to facilitate sharing.
Detailed work-flow diagrams, descriptions, and service frameworks are described by Simard, Albert J.
Defence Research and Development Canada: Knowledge Services Reference Architecture, unpublished paper,
August 20, 2013, 158 p + illus.
Collaboration involves joint or peer production or use of knowledge. Management is through
partnerships, in which participants are voluntarily engaged. Collaboration is used by work groups,
communities of practice, and social networks. This quadrant requires a high degree of trust among
participants. The environment is typically diverse and synergistic in that many minds with a diverse
range of knowledge and expertise leads to synergy and the possibility of emergent knowledge. This
quadrant maximizes knowledge creation.
Negotiation emphasizes reaching an agreement that is acceptable to all parties. Generally, some
compromise will be necessary by both sides. Negotiation is used for purchasing, contracting, and
mergers. This involves an adversarial approach in which each party tries to extract as much compromise
as possible from the other. A nominal degree of trust is needed that both parties are not substantially
misrepresenting their situation, and that an agreement, once reached, will be honored. Verification of
statements made by opposing parties, to the extent possible, is essential. Negotiation normally takes
place within a structured, formal environment.
Competition results in one party winning and the other losing. The primary objective is to defeat or
defend against a competitor. Competition can take many forms, ranging from sports (rules predominate),
through business (rules are important), to combat (rules are minimal), with an increasingly aggressive
approach being used when moving across this range. This quadrant is predominantly characterized by
mistrust. Further, participants do their best to hide information or mislead the other party. The
competitive environment is generally hostile and secretive.
Unclear, in the center of the framework, is a region in which the level of trust and/or purpose of the
interaction are indeterminate. For example, a humanitarian NGO might want or need to work with other
organizations that they do not know to provide relief for victims of a natural disaster. Because trust takes
time to develop, the most appropriate approach to social interaction during the emergency is unclear. In
such cases, it may be best to start with negotiation, in which only nominal trust is assumed and, as trust is
developed over time, move to collaboration and sharing. Another advantage of such an approach is that
negotiation incorporates processes that attempt to elicit the level of trust that can be expected.
The social interaction framework is a mirror image of Cynefin sense-making framework (Kurtz and
Snowden (2003). Sharing is a well-understood, simple, linear process that is managed with a structured,
sense-categorize-respond approach. Collaboration is a complicated process, involving networked
interactions among multiple participants that are managed using an interpretive, sense-analyze-respond
approach. Negotiation is a complex process between two or more parties involving multiple uncertainties
that are managed with a discovery, probe-sense-respond approach. Finally, competition tends to be
chaotic in that actions of the opposite party are not knowable until they are taken, leading to a muddling,
act-sense-respond approach to interaction.
The interaction framework is actually a continuum. For example, negotiations that use a win/win strategy
are approaching the collaboration quadrant whereas those that use a win/loose strategy are approaching
the competition quadrant. Sharing organizational knowledge usually provides inputs to collaboration. As
Kurtz and Snowden point out, however, it is difficult for people to manage a continuum so that
classification is used here.
It is not unusual to move across quadrant boundaries in the framework. Competitors may decide that they
are better off by negotiating a settlement rather than continuing to compete. Alternatively, two
organizations may negotiate an agreement to collaborate on a project. Even competitive situations
normally involve a limited amount of sharing, such as names and positions of players starting a game,
annual and quarterly financial reports, or lists of dead, wounded, or captured combatants.
Sharing involves social interactions between two or more parties - a provider who makes content
available and one or more recipients who access it. Sharing is disseminating, making available, or
providing access to content or knowledge without an expectation of reciprocity, fee, or consideration from
the recipient or user. The term “exchange” is used here when some form of reciprocity is expected.
Sharing bridges the three generations of knowledge management (Dixon, 2010) in that it begins with
explicit knowledge, continues with tacit knowledge, and reaches into community knowledge. The
benefits of knowledge sharing in terms of leveraging the value of organizational knowledge are wellrecognized (Saint-Onge and Armstrong, 2004). Conversely, Holmes (2001) identifies a number of
challenges, such as hoarding, mistrust, and the effort involved. Finally, the social nature of sharing was
described by Tiwana (2000) in that sharing requires incentives in additional to technological enablers.
There are two types of sharing that occur in parallel processes – explicit content (data, information, or
knowledge) and tacit knowledge (Figure 2).
2.1 Sharing Explicit Content
Sharing explicit content focuses on providing a
place, such as a filing system, a content
repository, or a library for providers to store,
organize, and provide access to content and for
recipients to access it. Sharing explicit content
involves five steps.
engagement (most effective), motivation
(average effectiveness), or compliance
(least effective) to encourage or require
people to share their content. It might
also involve an agreement of reciprocity.
Incentives are provided through culture,
leadership and management.
Providing content makes content
available to recipients either in response
to a one-on-one request or by one-tomany transfer.
Enabling access permits recipients to search for and find content. It involves granting access
permission, interoperability standards, and creating awareness of the content.
Retrieving content involves recipients moving or downloading content from a remote location to
their site, computer, or repository.
Provider-user interaction enables recipients to contact providers to obtain additional information
about the content to increase their understanding and capacity to use it.
2.2 Sharing Tacit Knowledge
Sharing tacit knowledge focuses on providing a place, such as meeting spaces, workshops, or symposia
and technical support, such as a directory of expertise, on-line forums, or social networking to facilitate
interactions among people. Sharing tacit knowledge is about conversations, dialogue, and interactions
among colleagues and peers. Sharing tacit knowledge involves four steps.
Providing incentives involves engagement (most effective), motivation (average effectiveness),
or compliance (least effective) to encourage people to voluntarily share what they know.
Incentives are provided through culture, leadership and management.
Providing a place involves spaces or venues, such as a meeting room, workshop, conference, site
visit, or classroom where people can interact with each other.
Supporting interaction is primarily a technological process involving physical or digital
connectivity, such as: on-line forums, e-mail, a directory of expertise, a collaboration site, or
Interaction among people is the heart of sharing tacit knowledge. Many interaction processes
can be used (e.g., conversation, advising, presenting), depending on the nature of what is being
shared and the relationship between the participants.
Wenger et.al (2002) emphasizes that increasing complexity requires greater collaboration and that
communities are needed to keep pace with rapid change. Collaboration involves working with others in a
primarily intellectual endeavor involving mutual interests and compatible goals. Whereas sharing
provides access to existing content and knowledge, collaboration involves joint creation of new
knowledge. The key distinction between collaboration and negotiation is that, although both involve
mutual interests, collaboration involves little or no conflict between participant goals whereas negotiation
usually involves conflicting goals that require mutual compromise. Collaboration approaches the
agreement process as a partnership.
Collaboration involves four interrelated components: the social context, knowledge transformation,
technical support, and organizational work (Figure 3).
3.1 Social Context
As pointed out by Allee (1997) a
workplace is a social structure involving
behavior, relationships, and culture that
Similarly Dalkir (2005) observed that trust
is essential and that knowledge providers
primarily on the individual, community,
and cultural social context. Desirable
attributes include: candor, openness,
voluntarism, trust, and diversity, in pursuit
of joint creativity. The social context is
divided into four levels: individual
relationships, and cultural norms.
Attitudes involve personal feelings, emotions, or mental positions with regard to a fact, state, or purpose.
They also involve a readiness, preparedness, and willingness, to become involved in and commit to
collaborative work. Attitudes are based on personal values and intrinsic motivators. Although attitudes
cannot be known, they strongly affect individual behavior which is observable. Positive attitudes include:
enjoyment, candor, honesty, openness, altruism, and ethics. Negative attitudes include: hostility,
arrogance, selfishness, deception, and closed mindedness. Attitudes cannot be “managed,” but they can
be influenced through engagement, counseling, and positive interaction (e.g., feedback, listening, mutual
agreement). They are also influenced through human resource activities such as hiring engageable
people, interesting job assignments, and positive feedback.
Behavior relates to observable conduct, action, or response of an individual to stimulation or their
environment. Positive behavior is manifested through good sharing, participation, and collaboration
practices of an individual. Behavior can be affected through incentives based on compliance (e.g.,
policies, performance review, job security); motivation (e.g., bonuses, awards, recognition); and
engagement (e.g., sense of ownership, self-satisfaction, enjoyment). Compliance is least effective for
affecting behavior and engagement is most effective.
Relationships refer to promoting desired interactions within a group or community. Positive
relationships include: dialogue, trust, safety, equality of participants, and meritocracy of ideas. Negative
relationships include: debating, arguing, promoting an agenda, assuming superiority, majority voting, and
group think. Community dynamics can be guided through mutually agreed rules of conduct, group
norms, and fostering positive relationships.
Culture focuses on shared attitudes and beliefs, values and social norms, and goals and practices that
characterize an organization. Organizational culture is shaped by the organizational environment, the
nature of the domain, the size and nature of the organization, organizational history, and leadership.
Kotter (2002) identified eight steps that were necessary for changing an organization’s culture: sense of
urgency, guiding team, uplifting vision, communications, empowerment, short-term wins, persistence,
and nurturing. Desirable cultural attributes from a collaboration perspective include: diversity, flexibility,
freedom of expression, transparency, and learning.
3.2 Knowledge Transformation
Knowledge transformation changes knowledge inputs into knowledge outputs. The innate, tacit, and
explicit knowledge of individual participants is used to jointly create new community knowledge that is
transferred to the formal organization. This process depends on individuals voluntarily sharing what they
know, participating in community dialogues, and harvesting community knowledge. There are four steps
to knowledge transformation.
Voluntarism is participating in an activity from free will, choice, or consent without obligation or
expecting something in return. Ideally, people collaborate not because they are told to or expect to be
rewarded, but because they want to. Successful collaboration depends on candor, openness, honesty, and
ethical behavior among participants. This can be achieved through engagement, counseling, positive
feedback, and matching people to work that they enjoy doing.
Sharing is disseminating, making available, or providing access to content or knowledge. The extent of
sharing depends on motivating those with knowledge to make it available to others with the
understanding that once shared, it becomes community knowledge. Motivation includes: establishing
sharing goals, communicating sharing expectations, rewarding sharing, and discouraging hoarding.
Sharing also requires processes for capturing tacit knowledge by a community.
Dialogue is a conversation or free-flowing exchange of ideas and opinions among two or more people
without an intention of imposing one’s views on another. Dialogue requires trust and safety among
participants. It results in a meritocracy of ideas, equality of participation, a search for outliers, and
collective synergy. Dialogue requires mutually agreed rules of conduct and norms of behavior,
facilitation and guidance, positive relationships, and community support.
Harvesting is collecting, organizing, and transferring community knowledge into the organization as
validated, explicit knowledge. Harvesting combines activities of community champions (ensure highlevel support), sponsors (bridge between the community and the organization), leaders (subject-matter
expertise), and facilitator (communications, documents) who collectively transfer knowledge from
informal communities to the formal organization. They ensure that community outputs are brought to the
attention of the organization as proposals and recommendations.
3.3 Technological Support
Community dialogue predates civilization and the development of written language. On one hand,
technology can be seen as simply providing a 21st century enhancement that facilitates a quintessentially
human process. On the other hand, the need for speed, complexity of issues, diversity of expertise
required, and wide dispersion of collaborators, has made digital technology and the use of cyberspace an
essential element of collaboration in the knowledge society. There are five technological support
elements for collaboration.
Collaboration site is a web site that is used by members of a group or community to share existing
knowledge, present and discuss ideas, organize and manage work, and jointly create new knowledge.
Typical site functions include a document repository, discussion areas, a work space for jointly creating
content, a directory of expertise, and task management.
Accessibility is the extent to which content on a collaboration site can be acquired, delivered to, or
downloaded by participants. The site must be easily accessible to all members through a web browser
and a user-centric main page. Users may be limited to internal employees via an Intranet, but participants
often include people from outside the organization who access the site via the Internet. Although the
latter poses additional challenges for network and site security, access must remain easy for authorized
external users or they won’t participate. User training, help files, and a help desk facilitate use of the site
Network is the communications technology that connects dispersed communities, organizations, or large
numbers of people, with common interdependencies, interests, or purpose. An internal site must be
connected to an intranet or organizational network. A site with external members must be connected to
Site security involves controlling access to a web site and its content; architecture and operating
procedures that minimize the risk of damage or loss of functionality; and redundancy that enables rapid
recovery of the site and its content. Security must balance the need for protection with ease of access and
use. Inadequate security poses a risk for an entire network while a site that is difficult to use won’t be.
Operations are activities, work, or functions associated with installing, running, maintaining, and
upgrading a collaboration site. It also includes life-cycle management of the site as well as planning for
and implementing recovery and business continuity in the event of damage, failure, or loss of content.
3.4 Organizational Work
Organizational work transforms outputs from collaboration into recommendations that inform
organizational decisions that lead to action. Organizational work involves three steps.
Documentation adapts collaboration outputs to the organizational structure in preparation for
making recommendations to decision makers.
Storing documents and recommendations in a repository makes them available for sharing and
possible future reuse. As a precursor to decision making, it may also become part of the record of
Recommendations transfers collaboration outputs to the authoritative hierarchy for decision
making. When recommendations are approved, explicit knowledge becomes organizational
Negotiation is discussion or bargaining between two or more persons, groups, or organizations, with
mutual interests but conflicting goals, requiring compromise to reach an understanding, resolve
differences, produce an agreement, or satisfy various interests. A classic example is that of a buyer and
seller who want to do business (mutual interest) but the seller wants the highest price possible while the
buyer wants the lowest price possible. In the case of contracting, both parties benefit from reaching an
agreement but the contractor would like to do the least amount of work for the largest fee possible while
the organization would like just the opposite.
Unlike collaboration which emphasizes a partnership approach to creating knowledge, negotiation
emphasizes an adversarial approach to reaching an agreement. Recognizing the nature of this context at
the outset is critical to ultimate success because the two processes are very different. Voluntary sharing
of tacit knowledge is mostly absent in negotiation. Any information that provides a bargaining advantage
will most likely be withheld. In fact, some negotiating tactics are specifically intended to elicit
information from the opposite side without their being aware that they “let something slip.”
There is a body of literature relating to negotiation,
exemplified by Malhotra and Bazerman (2007), Fisher et.
al (2011) and Roeder and Simard (2013). The role of KM
in supporting negotiation focuses on producing situationspecific intelligence about the opposite party, and helping
to establish a negotiating position. At a strategic scale,
negotiation is a sequential linear process with a feedback
loop (Figure 4). There are three phases of negotiation:
preparation, bargaining, and organizational work.
Like so much of life, the greater the preparation, the
greater the chance that negotiation will reach a good
agreement. The more that is known about the opposite
party, the better a negotiator can present their side of the
case and counter arguments made by the other side. The
less uncertainty there is about a situation and its associated facts the less the risk of being surprised during
negotiations. Preparation involves six steps.
Preliminary analysis determines whether a negotiation is desirable and likely to succeed. Since
significant effort, involving several individuals is likely to be needed to prepare for negotiating, it
is useful at the outset to conduct a preliminary analysis to support a request for approval to
proceed. This step is skipped when the need for negotiation is obvious or the process is likely to
Recommendation involves summarizing the situation and the opposite party in a negotiation
along with a recommendation to proceed or not. It may also include recommendations to
collaborate with others in a joint negotiation or identify a potential competitive situation.
Determining goals and strategy establishes an overall approach for the negotiation. The goal
should specify intended outcomes as well as the nature of the agreement (e.g., MOU, contract,
letter). The strategic purpose of the negotiation (e.g., securing an agreement, or building a longterm relationship) is also specified.
Compiling involves finding, acquiring, and assembling content related to the organizational
context of the opposite party and about the situation or issue being negotiated. This typically
employs highly focused acquisition but should include as broad a range of content as feasible.
The latter minimizes the risk of surprise during the negotiation and reduces the level of
uncertainty. Compiling typically also involves conversations with people to elicit as much
information about the opposite party and the situation as possible.
Interpreting is construing or explaining the meaning and implications of content related to the
opposite party and the issue or situation to be negotiated to support a negotiating position. This
involves both analysis of relevant facts and synthesis of scattered bits and pieces of information
to reveal overall patterns.
Establishing a position determines the “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement” which
identifies the action that could be taken if an agreement cannot be reached. Then, the “Zone of
Potential Agreement” is determined for both parties. The upper limit of the zone identifies the
most that you are willing to concede while the lower limit estimates the most that the opposite
party is likely to concede. The region between these two limits is the “negotiation space.”
Bargaining involves discussion, debate, and sometimes argument between two or more parties with the
intent of reaching a mutual agreement. Although fairness is desirable, particularly when a long-term
relationship with the opposite party is important, it is not necessary. Unlike sequential processes,
everything impinges on bargaining at the center of a hub-and-spoke set of two-way interactions.
Although there would be a tendency to test assumptions and maximize benefits earlier and counter
deception or emotions after they occur, any process can affect the course of the discussion at any time.
There are three steps to bargaining.
Bargaining is the core of negotiation. It is a quintessential human process of points made and
countered by both parties. Each party explores areas of uncertainty and tests assumptions about
their opposites through carefully-crafted questions. They also search for unknowns in their
understanding of the opposite party’s position. There are techniques intended to positively
influence the opposite party as well as for detecting and dealing with deception and unethical
behavior. There are tactics for countering emotional behavior or differences in the relative power
of the parties. Bargaining should be undertaken by a trained negotiator supported by a subjectmatter expert and a support staff. The negotiator should have immediate access to an analyst who
can quickly compile and interpret new information that is revealed during negotiation.
Revising the position involves returning to the preparation phase and very quickly (e.g., within
hours or overnight) repeating the steps used to develop the original position, using the new
information. This results in either a revised or unchanged negotiating position.
Conclusion involves drafting and signing the negotiated agreement by the negotiators.
4.3 Organizational Work
Organizational work transforms the negotiated agreement into an organizational decision.
Organizational work involves four stages.
After-Action Review is a structured process for evaluating what occurred during a negotiation,
why it occurred, and how it can be done better in the future. It is undertaken by those involved in
and responsible for the negotiation. The after-action review formalizes organizational learning.
Documentation involves writing and submitting a report of the after-action review of the
Storing negotiation documents, the agreement, and recommendations makes it available
for sharing and possible future reuse. As a precursor to decision making, it may also
become part of the record of decision.
Recommendation transfers the provisional agreement to the authoritative hierarchy for
decision making. When the agreement is approved, the embedded knowledge becomes
Competition is part of life. Plants and animals compete for food, shelter, and survival in biological
ecosystems. Individuals, groups, and organizations compete for attention, resources, and dominance in
social systems. In the private sector, competition is for market share whereas in the public sector, it is for
dominance in the organization and the marketplace of ideas. There is a spectrum of competition, ranging
from sports, through business, to military. In the former, rules of engagement dominate interactions,
while they are important to business and nominal when military force is necessary. Although competition
is antithetical to knowledge management, it is perhaps the dominant reality faced by organizations. At the
same time, organizational learning and adaptation – key aspects of knowledge management – are driven
by the need to compete in markets. Consequently, if
knowledge management is to assume a comprehensive
role in organizations, it must provide organizational
value in competitive environments.
There is a body of literature on competitive intelligence
exemplified by Kahaner (1996), Martin (2002), and
Liebowitz (2006). Kahaner’s intelligence cycle was
adapted to the framework shown in Figure 5.
Competitive situations are often urgent, so that a rapid
response is critical to organizational success.
Competition begins by mobilizing knowledge about a
competitor. It is not normally possible to gather as much
content as necessary once a situation emerges, unless
potential competitors have been previously monitored
and dossiers compiled as is often done by security and
military organizations. However competitive content is
acquired, is essential to understand its limits and what
can be reasonably inferred from it. Transforming
mobilized content into recommended action is typically
accomplished through sports, business, security, or
military intelligence processes.
Competition involves more effort than other forms of interaction for two reasons. First, competitive
action on the part of an organization will be countered by the competitor. Therefore, it is important to
consider possible counter measures and forecast the likely outcome of various actions. Second,
competition is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring of outcomes and adaptation of
organizational strategies and tactics. The only way that competition ends is with a victory by one party
and defeat of the other or a negotiated agreement or truce to stop competing. From a KM perspective,
competition is divided into three phases: decision, intelligence, and action.
5.1 Competitive Decisions
Competitive decision making is a parallel process. The path taken depends on how the process started –
management direction or identified need. In the former case, the objectives are determined by
management, followed by a plan, which begins the intelligence phase. In the latter case, the need for
intelligence is first identified, followed by planning to inform management of the proposed resource
requirements, the plan is submitted for approval, and if approved, it is executed
5.1.1 Management direction
Determining objectives is done collaboratively, based on experiences and approved by a person
with the authority to do so.
Planning develops and documents the methods, procedures, resource requirements, and work
schedules that will be used to accomplish the stated objectives.
5.1.2 Identified need
Identifying the need begins with monitoring activities, an event or situation, or a pattern detected
by ongoing intelligence operations.
Planning develops and documents the methods, procedures, resource requirements, and work
schedules that will be used to accomplish the stated objectives.
Recommendation submits a proposed intelligence activity to decision makers.
Approval grants or denies authority to proceed with a recommended intelligence activity.
5.2 Competitive Intelligence
Competitive intelligence acquires, organizes, analyses, and interprets content from external sources to
reveal underlying patterns about a situation, event, or issue. The existence of a competitor requires
greater reliance on “hidden” external content and forecasting outcomes based on anticipated competitor
responses to proposed actions. Further, competitive situations often involve short-term to urgent time
Thus, an analyst’s ability to correctly interpret incomplete content becomes paramount.
Competitive intelligence involves six steps.
Acquisition is searching for and finding content, accessing it, and transferring it to an
Organizing involves classifying, categorizing, assigning, or sorting content into systematic
classes, categories, or structure, using standard classification criteria.
Analysis uses quantitative or qualitative methods to estimate the consequences of events or trends
in individual components of large and/or complex issues or systems.
Synthesis uses systems analysis techniques and synthesis applications to integrate individual
components into a whole and study their combined behavior.
Identifying actions involves selecting a set of possible competitive actions.
Response uses quantitative or qualitative methods to estimate potential competitor responses to
and the likely impacts of each action
5.3 Competitive Action
Competition, whether in sports, business, or combat, involves more than finding an initial solution and
implementing it. Taking action is the first step of an ongoing process that is intended toy end in victory
of one side over the other. Alternatively, competition can end in a tie, stalemate, or truce, in which both
sides agree to stop. Although competition is a primary way of increasing an individual’s stature, growing
a group, or increasing an organizations market share, the decision to do so involves considerable
uncertainty and risk. Each move made by one side will be countered by the other and although
countermoves and their impacts can be anticipated, they cannot be known in advance.
Competition is the primary driver of organizational learning and adaptation – essential precursors to
organizational sustainability. The more dynamic the organizational environment, the more critical it is for
an organization to be able to rapidly learn and adapt. Consequently, the more important it is for KM to
support competitive actions. Competition involves eight steps.
Documentation captures the results of the intelligence analysis, scenarios considered, and
expected responses from competitors.
Storing the intelligence analysis, report, and recommendations makes them available for
sharing and possible future reuse. As a precursor to approval, it may also become part of
the record of decision.
Recommendation submits a proposed competitive action to decision makers.
Authorizing gives authority accountability, responsibility, and resources to proceed with a
Monitoring tracks competitor responses to organizational actions as well as their effects.
Evaluating is assessing criteria and indicators of the effects of competitive action to determine its
Learning is increasing awareness, knowledge, or skill through competitive experience.
Adapting is modifying competitive activities based on evaluating and learning from prior
Knowledge management traditionally supports sharing and collaboration – work that takes place within a
domain of compatible goals. A four-quadrant social interaction framework extends knowledge
management to a domain of conflicting goals associated with negotiation and competition. It is proposed
that the latter are equally, if not more, important to organizational success than the former.
Social interactions must be classified in the proper quadrant because the purpose of each quadrant is
different, the work varies considerably, and different configurations of knowledge services are required
for support. Using the social interaction framework should increase the contribution of knowledge
management to the productivity of organizational knowledge work.
Allee, Verna (1997) The Knowledge Evolution, Butterworth-Heinemann Boston, MA. 274 p.
Dalkir, Kimitz (2005) Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice. Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann
Oxford, UK. 356p.
Davenport, Thomas H. and Laurence Prusak (1998) Working Knowledge. Harvard Business School
Press, Boston, MA. 199 p.
Dixon, Nancy (2010) The Three Eras of Knowledge Management. http://www.nancydixonblog.com/
Fisher, Roger, William, Ury, and Bruce Patton (2011) Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without
Giving In. Penguin Books, New York, NY, 204 p.
Holmes, Douglas (2001) E.gov. Nicholas Brealey Publishing, Naperville IL. 330p.
Kahaner, Larry (1996) Competitive Intelligence. Simon & Schuster, New York, NY. 300 p.
Kotter, John P. (2002) The Heart of Change. Harvard Business School Press, boston, MA. 190 p.
Kurtz, C. F. and David J. Snowden (2003) The New Dynamics of Strategy: Sense-Making in a Complex
and Complicated World. IBM Systems Journal 42(3).
Liebowitz, Jay (2006) Strategic Intelligence. Auerbach Publications, Boca Raton, FL. 223 p.
Malhotra, Deepak and Max H. Bazerman (2007) Negotiation Genius. Bantam Books, New York, NY.
Martin, Alain P. (2002) Harnessing the Power of Intelligence, Counterintelligence, and Surprise Events.
Professional Development Institute, Canada. 247 p.
McCormack, Mark H.(1995) On Negotiating. Dove Books, Beverly Hills, CA. 210 p.
Roeder, Larry W. and Albert Simard (2013) Diplomacy and Negotiation for Humanitarian NGOs.
Springer, New York, NY, 456 p.
Saint-Onge, Heubert and Charles Armstrong (2004) The Conductive Organization. ButterworthHeinemann, Boston, MA. 249p.
Simard, Albert J. and Philippe Jourdeuil (2012) Knowledge Services: A Synthesis of Best Practices.
Defence Research & Development Canada, Ottawa, ON. Technical Report TR 2012-011. 222 p.
Tiwana, Amrit (2000) The Knowledge Management Toolkit. Prentice-Hall. Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Wegner, Etienne, Richard McDermott, and William M. Snyder (2002) Cultivating Communities of
Practice. Harvard Business School Press, Boston. MA. 284 p.