Develop knowledge activists!

Abstract: Ikujiro Nonaka, Georg von Krogh and Kazuo Ichijo introduce the knowledge activist as a knowledge enabler. A knowledge activist is someone, some group or department that takes on particular responsibility for energizing and coordinating knowledge creation efforts throughout the corporation. Therefore, he acts in three roles: as a catalyst of knowledge creation, as a connector of knowledge creation initiatives and as a merchant of foresight.

To catalyze social processes of knowledge creation, a knowledge activist formulates ‘process triggers’ and creates space or context for knowledge creation. The concepts of microcommunities of knowledge, imagined communities and shared maps of cooperation help the knowledge activist to connect knowledge creation initiatives: since there are limits to the number of participants in microcommunities, the knowledge activist establishes imagined communities, whereby shared maps of cooperation are important. As a merchant of foresight, the knowledge activist finally provides overall direction to the knowledge creation taking place in various microcommunities.

The authors warn of three possible misconceptions and pitfalls of knowledge activism. First, the task of a knowledge activist is to enable, not control knowledge creation. Second, knowledge activism is not only about connecting others, but also about ensuring self-connections. Finally, lack of knowledge creation should not be covered up by establishing a knowledge activist.

Knowledge activism finds different sources in different companies. As possible options, the corporate R&D center, strategists, knowledge and technology transfer units are discussed as well as individuals or departments as knowledge activists. The ‘TORIDAS’ project at Maekawa serves as an illustration of the knowledge activist concept.

Georg Von Krogh, Ikujiro Nonaka, Kazuo Ichijo: Develop knowledge activists! European Management Journal, Volume 15, Issue 5, October 1997, Pages 475–483.

Copyright © by Elsevier Ltd.

English and Italian full text:

  • V. Dublino: ATTIVISTI DI CONOSCENZA: Mediatori Invisibili o Manager tratto da “Develop Knowledge Activists!” by G. von Krogh, I. Nonaka, K. Ichijo. ARTE E-Zine, 22/9/2013 Read more »

Related book chapter:

  • von Krogh, G. et al.: Enabler 3: Mobilize Knowledge Activists. In: von Krogh, G. et al.: Enabling Knowledge Creation: How to Unlock the Mystery of Tacit Knowledge and Release the Power of Innovation. Oxford u. a.: Oxford University Press, 2000: 147-175 (Ch. 7). Preview »

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