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Navigating in the knowledge era: metaphors and stories in the construction of Skandia's navigator
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Business.
Responsible organisation
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Within the dominant knowledge management literature, knowledge is often treated as a given, codifiable, and sharable strategic resource. Various tools have been developed to manage knowledge, and the focus of this thesis is on one such tool; the balanced scorecard. The assumption underlying the balanced scorecard is that organisational actors are to acquire ‘true knowledge’ about what is ‘really going on in the organisation’ by using it. Furthermore, the development of a shared language is supposed to enable the actors to talk about, create a shared understanding for, and deal with reality assumed to exist ‘out there’.

Rather contrary to these assumptions, this thesis treats knowledge as a process situated in practice, where talk is the practice in focus. What is referred to as knowledge processes are seen as taking place during practice, leading to the construction of knowledge structures. These structures, in turn, give form to the processes. With such an approach, the aim of this study is to create an understanding for the role of balanced scorecards as linguistic tools within knowledge management practices, and to contribute to a conceptualisation of knowledge seen as a process.

To fulfil this aim, an in-depth study of Skandia’s work with the Navigator, their equivalent to the balanced scorecard, has been conducted. Metaphors and stories have been interpreted as being central as they have been used to spread ideas about the Navigator and to shape the development of knowledge. Moreover, some organisational actors’ practices have been interpreted as storymaking through which actors enact and make sense of their practices. It is concluded that rather than developing shared knowledge about reality ‘out there’, or what is labelled one continent of knowledge, the actors construct several temporary knowledge isles that take various forms and characteristics depending on when and how they are used. These knowledge isles are not manageable in the sense that they can be controlled. Instead they become in-formed, i.e., they are given form through the use of balanced scorecards.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: School of Business, Stockholm University , 2003. , 235 p.
Keyword [en]
knowledge; knowledge management; situated practice; balanced scorecards; linguistic tools; metaphors; stories; storymaking; storyspreading.
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-7952ISBN: 91-7265-588-7OAI: diva2:199341
Public defence
2003-03-21, Philipssalen, Kräftriket, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2003-02-28 Created: 2003-02-28 Last updated: 2009-12-16Bibliographically approved

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