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Dispersed knowledge management in ecosystems

Leonardo Augusto de Vasconcelos Gomes (School of Economics, Business Administration and Accounting, University of São Paulo , São Paulo, Brazil)
Aline Mariane de Faria (School of Economics, Business Administration and Accounting, University of São Paulo , São Paulo, Brazil)
Felipe Mendes Borini (School of Economics, Business Administration and Accounting, University of São Paulo , São Paulo, Brazil)
Ximena Alejandra Flechas Chaparro (School of Economics, Business Administration and Accounting, University of São Paulo , São Paulo, Brazil)
Matheus Graciani dos Santos (School of Economics, Business Administration and Accounting, University of São Paulo , São Paulo, Brazil)
Guilherme Soares Gurgel Amaral (Innovation and Competitiveness Observatory, University of São Paulo , São Paulo, Brazil)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 25 March 2021

Issue publication date: 24 May 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

Accessing and sharing dispersed knowledge in ecosystems is neither easy nor automatic. In ecosystems, focal firms should purposely create the right conditions and act to deal with dispersed knowledge. This study aims to investigate how focal firms manage dispersed knowledge in ecosystems characterized by a set of autonomous, heterogeneous, yet interdependent actors involved in experimentation under uncertainty.

Design/methodology/approach

Following a conceptual framework based on preceding literature, this study conducted a broad qualitative case study of 6 firms and 12 projects, with 43 semi-structured interviews to identify the patterns of actions associated with dispersed knowledge management (KM) in ecosystems. This paper combines coding and multiple case comparisons to examine the processes and strategies used by the firms to strategically manage dispersed knowledge in ecosystems.

Findings

This paper proposes a framework that articulates a new type of orchestration (dispersed knowledge orchestration) and offers a new set of dispersed knowledge strategies (transfer, modularity and circular) for ecosystems.

Practical implications

Innovation and knowledge managers play the roles of dispersed knowledge orchestrators. The study offers guidance on how focal firms should carefully use a particular set of approaches (e.g. integrative theorization) including a portfolio of dispersed knowledge strategies in ecosystems.

Originality/value

Current literature on KM and ecosystem management offers a limited understanding of how organizations manage dispersed knowledge in ecosystems. The research provides three major original contributions. First, the framework contributes to broadening the current understanding of ecosystem orchestration by identifying the micro-foundations of dispersed knowledge orchestration: integrative theorization, nurturing distributed sensemaking and a new chapter for ecosystem governance (i.e. dispersed knowledge governance). Moreover, the framework proposes a new type of strategy, the dispersed knowledge strategy. Finally, by exploring the interplay between the micro-foundations of dispersed knowledge orchestration and dispersed knowledge strategy, the results contribute to a multi-level approach in the field.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the special issue co-editor Assoc. Professor Fabio Lotti Oliva and the anonymous reviewers for their guidance and insightful comments. Also, the authors would like to express their gratitude to the company informants (innovation managers and entrepreneurs) for giving access to the case and the interview data. Extensive and constructive comments on earlier versions were provided by Lorenna Leal, Eduardo Zancul, Fabio Farago, and Tatiane Bottan. Responsibility for the information and views expressed in the article lies entirely with the authors. Funding: The research was funded by grant from PD- 00068-0045/2019, Isa Cteep-Aneel, and 436877/2018-0, National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq-Brazil).

Citation

Gomes, L.A.d.V., de Faria, A.M., Borini, F.M., Flechas Chaparro, X.A., dos Santos, M.G. and Gurgel Amaral, G.S. (2021), "Dispersed knowledge management in ecosystems", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 796-825. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-03-2020-0239

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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