Knowledge Sharing in the Commons LO24406

From: Mark W. McElroy (
Date: 04/22/00

Replying to LO24396 --

Bernhard Weber wrote:

> You wrote: "most traditional organisational structures coupled with the
> emerging increased valuation of knowledge will actually impede knowledge
> sharing." I'd like people to share their ideas/opinions with me or point
> me to similar patterns of thought.

Bernhard, while knowledge sharing is ostensibly encourgaed by most
organizations (i.e., by their management), the fact remains that most
management regimes encourage quite the opposite behavior by virtue of the
actions they themselves take and the polcies they enforce. First, all
valuable organizational knowledge is quite literally owned by "the
company" thanks to the sort of intellectual property agreements most
firms enforce and the degree of support they receive from the courts in
their zeal to do so. All new knowledge produced by employees, wheher in
cooperative teams or not, is summarily confiscated by one's employer in
most modern corporations. This is a pernicious practice of the most
insidious kind and yet it is deeply ingrained in most corporate cultures.

Second, valuable organizational knowledge is rarely shared amongst the
rank and file of most organizations. Its circulation and use is largely
confined to the power elite -- upper management, if you like. Why should
an employee feel compelled to share valuable personal knowledge when his
or her managers, whose positions and rank he or she aspires to, do quite
the opposite?

So what we have is an environment where management says to do one thing
and yet daily practices another. If organizations want their employees to
share valuable organizational knowledge with their co-workers (as well as
the VALUE of organizational knowledge), then management should seriously
consider setting the example, first, by adopting the habit of sharing
knowledge themselves with their own constituents. Forsaking the
imposition of one-sided intellectaul property agreements as a draconian
condition of employment would be a good place to start. These covetous
instruments of greed reflect a deeply-held culture of avarice and
selfishness which, I'm afraid, pervades the practice of business here in
the U.S. Until the content and value of organizational knowledge becomes
a bit more democratized, I daresay we should all expect nothing but more
of the same difficulty in getting the average worker to share his or her
valuable kowledge with others. Why should they, their managers don't!



"Mark W. McElroy" <>

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