To Own or to Possess? Competence and the Challenge of Appropriability ⋆
Supporting knowledge management with information technology is widely characterized as a technical challenge — one of devising an information system in which only those people entitled to use a given piece of knowledge can gain access to it, and then making it as easy as possible for those people to do so. This chapter argues that the changing nature of the employment relationship poses a real challenge in getting employees to freely contribute their knowledge in the first place. When organizational competence is based on well articulated knowledge that is well diffused within a company, it may become difficult for the firm to appropriate such knowledge. In both cases, extracting full economic profits from knowledge potentially on offer becomes problematic for a firm. This dilemma is called the paradox of value. This chapter presents a fundamental conceptual framework known as the Information Space or I-Space for the examination of information flows among agents within a firm, and discusses how recent developments in information technology are likely to exacerbate the paradox of value.
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