Uncertainty, Pluralism, and the Knowledge-Based Theory of the Firm: From J.-C. Spender’s Contribution to a Socio-Cognitive Approach

Markus Reihlen, Torsten Ringberg

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

J.-C. Spender’s award-winning, knowledge-based theory of the firm is based on four premises: (1) The firm can be sufficiently understood as a system of knowledge, (2) explicit and implicit knowing can be clearly dissociated, (3) organizations are conceived as cognizing entities, and (4) intuition shaped by shared cultural practices is a superior source of managerial knowledge. This line of reasoning represents a social constructionist view of the enactment, transfer, and storage of knowledge according to which managerial knowledge is largely tacitly shaped by industry recipes and the firm’s socio-cultural conventions and other social processes. Although comprehensive in scope, we argue that a knowledge-based theory of the firm needs to integrate a cognitivist approach that includes the synergetic production of tacit and explicit knowledge, the role of reflective thinking in resolving strategic uncertainties, and the interaction between the individual and the social. This socio-cognitive theory of the firm posits that sustained competitive advantage of a firm is founded on the ability to align knowledge internally within the firm as well as externally with its stakeholders through the individual sense-making of feedback from other individuals.
J.-C. Spender’s award-winning, knowledge-based theory of the firm is based on four premises: (1) The firm can be sufficiently understood as a system of knowledge, (2) explicit and implicit knowing can be clearly dissociated, (3) organizations are conceived as cognizing entities, and (4) intuition shaped by shared cultural practices is a superior source of managerial knowledge. This line of reasoning represents a social constructionist view of the enactment, transfer, and storage of knowledge according to which managerial knowledge is largely tacitly shaped by industry recipes and the firm’s socio-cultural conventions and other social processes. Although comprehensive in scope, we argue that a knowledge-based theory of the firm needs to integrate a cognitivist approach that includes the synergetic production of tacit and explicit knowledge, the role of reflective thinking in resolving strategic uncertainties, and the interaction between the individual and the social. This socio-cognitive theory of the firm posits that sustained competitive advantage of a firm is founded on the ability to align knowledge internally within the firm as well as externally with its stakeholders through the individual sense-making of feedback from other individuals.
LanguageEnglish
JournalEuropean Management Journal
Volume31
Issue number6
Pages706-716
ISSN0263-2373
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Keywords

    Cite this

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    abstract = "J.-C. Spender’s award-winning, knowledge-based theory of the firm is based on four premises: (1) The firm can be sufficiently understood as a system of knowledge, (2) explicit and implicit knowing can be clearly dissociated, (3) organizations are conceived as cognizing entities, and (4) intuition shaped by shared cultural practices is a superior source of managerial knowledge. This line of reasoning represents a social constructionist view of the enactment, transfer, and storage of knowledge according to which managerial knowledge is largely tacitly shaped by industry recipes and the firm’s socio-cultural conventions and other social processes. Although comprehensive in scope, we argue that a knowledge-based theory of the firm needs to integrate a cognitivist approach that includes the synergetic production of tacit and explicit knowledge, the role of reflective thinking in resolving strategic uncertainties, and the interaction between the individual and the social. This socio-cognitive theory of the firm posits that sustained competitive advantage of a firm is founded on the ability to align knowledge internally within the firm as well as externally with its stakeholders through the individual sense-making of feedback from other individuals.",
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    Uncertainty, Pluralism, and the Knowledge-Based Theory of the Firm : From J.-C. Spender’s Contribution to a Socio-Cognitive Approach. / Reihlen, Markus; Ringberg, Torsten.

    In: European Management Journal, Vol. 31, No. 6, 12.2013, p. 706-716.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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