The evolution of organization, management and production processes is moving towards complexity. The ever growing competition presses firms to give intangible internal and external exclusive resources the utmost attention. The improvement of the performance, through the retrieval of resources, neither available internally nor achievable autonomously, can be reached by going beyond traditional firm boundaries and by enforcing an external relationship system: proliferation of networks, partnerships, and inter‐organizational collaborations should be, consequently, triggered. The purpose of this paper concerns the evaluation of knowledge impact on relationships among the members of an inter‐organizational collaboration. It also aims to suggest conditions for the improvement of knowledge management in different types of knowledge‐based inter‐organizational collaborations.
Critical success factors of the networked organizations have been defined. Distinctive characteristics, that cannot be disregarded, whatever the environment, have been singled out from literature analysis; successively, they have been arranged into a classification schema to design knowledge‐based collaboration types. Properties of knowledge and peculiarities of knowledge management processes (identification, creation, storage, sharing/distribution, application, and capitalization/refinement) have been assessed according to the types of the collaborations.
The theoretical framework can be applied by network managers to adopt the most favourable knowledge management strategy and process, independent of the distinctive characteristics of the collaborations.
The paper provides a theoretical framework to arrange the knowledge‐based inter‐organizational collaborations into an innovative classification schema on the basis of their cognitive, strategic and structural aspects.
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