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Polychronic knowledge creation in cross-border business models: a sea-like heuristic metaphor

Tachia Chin (School of Management, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou, China)
Shouyang Wang (Academy of Mathematics and Systems Science, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China)
Chris Rowley (Kellogg College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 15 July 2020

Issue publication date: 23 January 2021



This study aims to characterise an intricate, idiosyncratic knowledge-creating mechanism in the modern digital context of cross-cultural business models (CBM). From an integrative socio-cultural and philosophical perspective, the authors suggest a novel concept of polychronic knowledge creation (PKC) and its metaphor to theorise such a complex phenomenon.


This paper is conceptual in nature. It critically reviews the literature characterising the flourishing of information and communication technology (ICT)-driven CBMs and clarifies a research gap. The authors draw a dynamic conceptual framework describing how knowledge is created poly-chronically within CBMs, while also articulating and justifying the occurrence of knowledge icebergs as a manifestation of critical cognitive variances and biases in such contexts.


Building upon existential phenomenology, the authors regard the sea as a parable of the CBM ecosystem and propose the new notion of PKC as a dynamic time-space synthesis and its associated sea-like heuristic metaphor. These elucidate how the intricate interconnectivity of a focal firm with its diverse strategic partners kindles a discursive, multi-path knowledge creation process in ICT-driven CBMs under multiple jurisdictions with manifold cultures.

Research limitations/implications

Implications regarding the role of cross-cultural management in creating new knowledge within CBMs are provided.


The research complements and enriches Nonaka’s (1994) theory and its underlying metaphor “ba” (by incorporating the abstruse yet vital role of culture in the synthesizing process of knowledge creation) to propose the novel ideas of PKC and the sea-like heuristic metaphor in CBMs.



This research is supported by the NSFC Grant No. 71988101.


Chin, T., Wang, S. and Rowley, C. (2021), "Polychronic knowledge creation in cross-border business models: a sea-like heuristic metaphor", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 1-22.



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