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Inter-organisational knowledge networks: synthesising dialectic tensions of university-industry knowledge discovery

Lawrence Dooley (Department of Management and Marketing, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland)
Claire Gubbins (Work Psychology and Strategy Group, DCU Business School, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 30 May 2019

Issue publication date: 11 December 2019




Despite growth in use of inter-organisational relationships for knowledge co-creation, many collaborations struggle to realise the synergistic benefits of these networks. This paper aims to explore the evolving dialectic tensions evident within an inter-organisational relationship and the governance consideration to optimise the knowledge process.


A longitudinal case of a university-industry knowledge network is selected for study. The single case analysis aligns with the dialectical epistemology, which dismisses the expectation of homogeny or constancy across network cases.


The research highlights the circular condition between dialectic tensions evident within inter-organisational relations and the governance mechanisms developed to synthesis the network knowledge discovery capability. The research shows that these tensions are a natural part of the network existence and often advantageous to knowledge creation. The research also highlights that governance is required at multiple levels within the network entity to optimise knowledge exchange and discovery.


The research adds to the limited application of dialectical thinking to inter-organisational networks. It highlights the structural and relational governance mechanisms that interplay to optimise their knowledge process capability. The research also highlights the multiple levels within networks at which tensions can originate, requiring knowledge governance at the micro, meso and macro level to address the complexity of the inter-organisational relationship. This research provides a better understanding of how knowledge within inter-organisational relations can be managed for mutual benefit and value creation.



Dooley, L. and Gubbins, C. (2019), "Inter-organisational knowledge networks: synthesising dialectic tensions of university-industry knowledge discovery", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 23 No. 10, pp. 2113-2134.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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