Inderscience Publishers

Possession is nine tenths of the law: managing a firm's knowledge base in a regime of weak appropriability

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Courtesy of Inderscience Publishers

Much of the work currently going on in the field of knowledge management takes the capture, storage and dissemination within the firm of useful employee knowledge as its key focus. Knowledge management thus appears primarily as a technical challenge devising a suitable information system. Part of this challenge consists of ensuring that only those entitled to use the knowledge effectively gain access to it. With diffusion becoming ever less controllable, this challenge is becoming rather more complex. Traditionally, it consisted of firms seeking to prevent those outside the firm gaining access to their knowledge. We argue in this paper that a bigger challenge may now be to get employees to contribute their knowledge in the first place and that the capture of knowledge involves more than simply making it easier for employees to articulate their idiosyncratic experiences and know how. It also involves creating an incentive structure making it worth their while to do so. In a "post Marxist" world, knowledge workers are once more becoming the owners of the means of production.

Keywords: knowledge appropriation, intellectual property, I-Space, knowledge base, competences, paradox of value

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