Knowledge Sharing in a Cross-Cultural Environment

Paper / Knowledge and Intangibles

Knowledge Sharing in a Cross-Cultural Environment
suleman , Professor, Pakistan

Knowledge sharing archetype that is common to all nationalities can be developed

This study builds a Knowledge Sharing Archetype using the view of knowledge given by Polanyi (1958) utilising the concept of Archetype and collective consciousness as given by Jung. The Archetype is contained by a Culture Based Knowledge Sharing Model for organizations described by Lodhi (2005), and Lodhi and Ahmad (2010).

The knowledge sharing process between two individuals at an abstract level, is presented in Figure-1 below, where an actor “A” has a certain world view based on his/her experiences and information about an object or an issue. When that actor intends to pass his/her understanding of reality to another actor “B”, he/she codes his point of view into a verbal and nonverbal message and transmits it the actor “B”.

The actor “B” then de-codes the message with the help of his/her previous knowledge, experience and the information contained in the message received from actor “A”. The actor “B” after decoding of the complete message is able to create his/her own view of reality. When we compare the reality view of actor “A” with the reality view created by actor “B”; even assuming that there has been no distortion in the message due to noise or miscoding on the part of actor “A”, the world view of actor “B” could never be the same as actor “A”.

The knowledge sharing process in Figure -1 is based on Polany’s theory of Knowledge, which has roots in constructivism (Svieby, 1994). Polanyi based his concept of knowledge on three main theses:

• First, true discovery cannot be accounted for by a set of articulated rules or algorithms;
• Second, knowledge is public and also to a very great extent personal (i.e. it is constructed by humans and therefore contains emotions, "passion".); and
• Third that the knowledge that underlies explicit knowledge is more fundamental; all knowledge is either tacit or rooted in tacit knowledge.

Considering that knowledge is not private but social in nature, therefore socially conveyed knowledge blends with the experience of reality of an individual. New experiences are always assimilated through the concepts that the individual constructs and which the individual has inherited from other users of the language. Polanyi regards the process of knowing as fragmentary clues that are integrated under categories - arguing that these patterns of categories contain theories, methods, feelings, values, and skills which can be used in a fashion that the tradition judges are valid.

He argues that humans use previous knowledge as a tool to focus upon particular issues at hand. This act of integration is an informal act of the mind and cannot be replaced by a formal operation. In his later works (Tacit Knowing) he emphasizes the dynamic properties, i.e. the verb: Knowledge is an activity, which would be better described as a process of knowing (Sveiby, 1994). Polanyi regards knowledge as a tool by which humans act or gather new knowledge, therefore for him "knowledge", and "knowing" are synonyms.

The way humans perceive the world or create a reality-view depends on the complex working of the human brain, Hampden-Turner (1982) gives a comprehensive review of the work of theorists on human psyche. Using the metaphor of a map, he has organised the work into different levels, from the mechanistic and physiological, to the paradigmatic and mythological. Hampden-Turner (ibid) states that Freud’s contribution begins from understanding that humans “know” more than that they are consciously aware, Freud provided clues to answer basic questions like, why do we forget selective things while remember some seemingly unimportant events for the whole length of our life? Why do people suffer phobic dreads and anxieties or recover buried memories under hypnosis? These cannot be explained without the concepts of the conscious and unconscious mind, with the “Id” embodying the instincts and being controlled by a partially conscious “Ego”. The Id consists of instinctual energies and drives which are without rational thought - on the other hand the Ego usually functions intelligently and works to serve the Id. Jung later borrowed the concepts of the conscious and unconscious from Freud, but Jung’s concept of the unconscious and conscious was much elaborate than Freud’s, He considered that there was a personal unconscious consisting of dimmed memories and a collective unconscious at a still deeper level. By the collective unconscious Jung denoted a possibility of inherited psychical functioning. In Jung's psychology an archetype is an inherited pattern of thought or symbolic imagery that is transferred from culture, and its past collective experience, to an individual unconscious, and then this archetype guides the individual to follow a certain behavioural pattern.

In developing the concept of a knowledge archetype, the model for voluntary knowledge sharing in organizations (Lodhi and Ahmad, 2010) is regarded as a reference model. It is assumed that an archetype shall be unable to function if it is not synchronised, or embedded, in the environment which contains it. Here the reference model by Lodhi and Ahmad (2010) is developed further using a constructivist approach and utilising Polanyi’s theory of knowledge

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