Economics of Knowledge Reconsidered
This chapter examines the reasons why knowledge is becoming more of a core element of the value-generating process in the economy, and identifies the forms of knowledge that are relevant for organizational learning. Knowledge indeed appears as a unique asset that is both an output (innovation) of the production process and an input (competence) of this process. However, this property is hidden in mainstream economics, which tends to conflate knowledge with information. It is argued that the burst of intellectual activity since the early 1990s recognizing the generative characteristics of knowledge emerged initially from the distinction made between knowledge and information. This burst abandoned the hypothesis that any form of knowledge can be made codifiable, and that human knowledge is created and expanded through conversions between tacit and codified knowledge. It also ceased to consider knowledge as centred purely on the individual and focused instead on collective forms of knowledge formation. The chapter also emphasizes another key distinction in the literature, between treating knowledge as something people possess and appreciating the knowing found in individual and group practices. The latter perspective leads to an understanding of knowledge generation and acquisition in firms as the product of habits of everyday interaction in which thinking and acting are combined in an inseparable unity.
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