Organizational Memory: The Role of Culture in Fostering Knowledge Sharing and Memory Creation in an Organizational Setting

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Sharing tacit knowledge – knowledge which cannot be codified, but which is paramount to the mastery of a particular skill – presents unique challenges in an organizational setting. Through Communities …

Sharing tacit knowledge – knowledge which cannot be codified, but which is paramount to the mastery of a particular skill – presents unique challenges in an organizational setting. Through Communities or Practice, mentorships, and storytelling, members can begin to overcome these challenges and foster rich sites of...more

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  • 1. Meghan Ecclestone Housing Memory Student Conference Friday, March 12, 2009 1
  • 2. 1. 2. 3. 4. Knowledge and memory in the organization: Overview of key concepts Role of culture: A discussion of cultural knowledge Communities, mentors and stories: Vehicles for organizational memory through tacit/cultural knowledge Conclusions 2
  • 3. 1. Explicit knowledge: Can be expressed through a codified norm (i.e.: language, code, formula) 2. Tacit knowledge: Cannot be codified, but it paramount to master of a skill. Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995 3
  • 4. Cultural knowledge:  the shared beliefs, assumptions and norms that create a framework in which members understand the content and aim of their work, identify and solve problems, and assess the value of new knowledge.  “consists of the beliefs an organization holds to be true and justifiably so, about its environment and itself.” (Choo 2006, 143-4). 4
  • 5. Organizational memory is knowledge and information from an organization's past which can be accessed and used for present and future organizational activities. Organizations have an interest in understanding these concepts, as an organization's ability to collect, store and use knowledge it has generated through experience can have important consequences for its performance. (Olivera, 2000) 5
  • 6.    A group of members defined by a common professional practice, despite their location within the organizational structure Fosters increased efficiency, innovation and expertise Develops transactive memory: the combination of individual knowledge, and the interpersonal awareness of others’ knowledge (Lesser and Storck, 2004; Cox, 2005). 6
  • 7.   Pairing newcomers with experienced workers creates a "transfer relationship,” where face-toface contact facilitates knowledge exchange that might not be contained in the companies documents or databases. Knowledge is shared through these relationships, in which experienced workers tap into their memories to recall vital cultural or tacit knowledge regarding the organization. Swap et al., 2001 7
  • 8.   “a detailed narrative of past management action, employee interactions, or other intra-or extra-organizational events that are communication information within the organization” Oral telling of a milestone or practice that illustrates the organization’s cultural identity; relays clues about norms, politics, practices and values Swap et al. 2001, 103; Choo, 2006 8
  • 9.  Knowledge exists beyond the explicit  There is value in the relationships and stories that inform organizational culture  Benefits of tapping into these memories /knowledge repositories 9
  • 10. Casey, A. (1997). ‘Collective memory in organizations’. Advances in Strategic Management, 14: 111–46. Walsh, J.P. and Ungson, G.R. (1991).‘Organizational memory’. Academy of Management Review, 16(1): 57–90. Casey, A. (1997). ‘Collective memory in organizations’. Advances in Strategic Management, 14: 111–46. Choo, C.W. 2006. The Knowing Organization: How Organizations Use Information to Construct Meaning, Create Knowledge, and Make Decisions. Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press. Davenport, T.H. and L. Prusak. 1998. Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Hinds P. J., and Pferrer, J. “Why Organizations Don’t ‘Know What They Know’: Cognitive and Motivational Factors Affecting the Tranfer of Expertise,” in M. S. Ackerman, V. Pipek, and V. Wulf. (Eds).(2003). Sharing Expertise: Beyond Knowledge Management. Cambridge: MIT Press). Joung, W. and B. Hesketh. (2009). “Using ‘War Stories’ to Train for Adaptive Performance: it is Better to Learn from Error or Success?” Applied Psychology: An International Review 55(2): 282-302. Nonaka,I. and H. Takeuchi. 1995. The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation. New York: Oxford University Press. Swap, W., Leonard, D., Shields, M., & Abrams, L. (2001). “Using Mentoring and Storytelling to Transfer Knowledge in the Workplace.” Journal of Management Information Systems 18(1), 95-114. Walsh, J.P. and Ungson, G.R. (1991). ‘Organizational memory’. Academy of Management Review, 16(1): 57–90. Wenger, E. 1998. Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 10