Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 22 Number 3 2005 pp. 225-263

Dynamic Knowledge Patterns to Inform Design: A Field Study of Knowledge Stocks and Flows in an Extreme Organization

Nissen, Mark E

ABSTRACT: Knowledge represents a critical resource in the modern enterprise. But it is dynamic and distributed unevenly. Capitalizing on this dynamic resource for enterprise performance depends upon its rapid and reliable flows across people, organizations, locations, and times of application. From a technological perspective, this points immediately to the design of information systems to enhance knowledge flows. The problem is, the design of information systems to enhance knowledge flows requires new understanding. The research described in this paper concentrates on understanding the dynamics of knowledge phenomenologically and on developing and applying techniques for modeling and visualizing dynamic knowledge flows and stocks. We draw key, theoretical concepts from multiple literatures, and we build upon integrative modeling work that composes a parsimonious, multidimensional, analytical framework for representing and visualizing dynamic knowledge. We then conduct field research to learn how this theoretical framework may be used to model knowledge flows in practice. By focusing this empirical work on an extreme organization and processes that involve and rely upon tacit knowledge, we illustrate how dynamic knowledge patterns can inform design in new ways. New chunks of kernel theory deriving from this fieldwork are articulated in terms of a propositional model, which provides a basis for the development of testable design theory hypotheses.

Key words and phrases: case study, dynamics, information systems, knowledge design, knowledge flow, knowledge management, knowledge transfer, military, organizational learning