Communicating Humanistic Knowledge - Knowing the Knowing?

Bjarne Christensen


In both knowledge communication and practice theory, knowledge theorizing has received increased attention. However, the concept of knowledge needs further exploration. It has been claimed that knowledge in organizational practice is socially and processually created among organization members in communities of practice (CoPs) as a place for knowledge creation and knowledge communication. Following this outline, the study seeks to link the knowledge concepts from organizational knowledge communication and practice theory. As empirical contributions for expansion of this knowledge theorizing have been called for, the current paper conducts a case study to scrutinize if and how organization members with different educational backgrounds communicate knowledge in CoPs. The case is an IT software company employing a humanistic academic and mainly IT professionals. The case organization has real-world relevance, since humanistic graduates currently suffer from high unemployment rates. The study finds that no attempts are made to communicate knowledge from the humanistic education. Rather, the humanistic academic is socialized into a practice through a commitment to learn the existing practice of the HR department, which further seems to be a practice placed in a lower hierarchy than the practice of the IT professionals. Interestingly though, knowledge from the humanistic education is called for by the IT profes- sionals. These findings pave the way to inform both knowledge theorizing and the real-world problem by discussing how organization members engage in fundamentally new knowledge communication and scaffold new knowing. Thus, the study discusses implications related to how organization members come to know their own knowing and the knowings of others. 


organizational knowledge communication; practice theory; communities of practice; knowing; case study; humanistic academic.

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