Translating knowledge to build technological competence

Savory, Clive (2006). Translating knowledge to build technological competence. Management Decision, 44(8) pp. 1052–1075.



Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present a review of literature that establishes the factors affecting the ability of an organisation to absorb and apply knowledge. The review aims to draw from literature on the resource-based view of the firm, dynamic capabilities, organisational learning, knowledge management and technological innovation. The paper then seeks to present a model of knowledge translation capability synthesised from the literature review.
Design/methodology/approach – The model that is synthesised from the literature review draws on three streams of work. First, the work of Dorothy Leonard on technological capability; second, the I-space model of knowledge assets developed by Max Boisot; and third, other work based in the organisational learning and innovation management literature. The model is illustrated using a case study of an innovation project.
Findings – The effective development of a knowledge translation capability requires attention to a network of both formal and informal structures/activities across an organisation. Together these activities constitute a dynamic capability that operates iteratively throughout the whole organisation and are an example of triple-loop learning processes.
Practical implications – The paper will prove useful to other academics in the area of technological innovation and practising managers who can use the model to evaluate their own organisation's knowledge translation capability.
Originality/value – The advantage of the model presented is that, unlike other discussions of dynamic capability, the link between conceptual level description and real world activities has been made more distinct. By recognising relevant organisational structures and relationships, it becomes possible to takes steps to assess their performance and then manage their improvement.

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