Skip to main content

Knowledge Articulation and Utilisation: Networks and the Creation of Expertise

This project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Swindon, UK. Grant reference no. L323253034

As organisations seek to design and implement complex technological systems, they are increasingly reliant upon extensive social and professional networks to supply the requisite variety of information and expertise. Sources of relevant knowledge may include informal social ties and links to professional associations as well as more formal arrangements involving technology suppliers and consultants. This study has been funded by the ESRC under its 'European Context of Science Policy' programme to advance understanding of the scope of such networks and the impact which they have upon the innovation process. It builds on previous research which not only highlighted the critical role which networks play in the diffusion of technological innovations but also highlighted wide differences between different sectors and countries in the shape of dominant social networks and the role which they played. 

To address these questions and to locate knowledge networks within their industrial and institutional context, the study has been designed on an international, cross-sectoral basis. It comprises ten case-studies drawn from four different European countries (Britain, Sweden, France and the Netherlands), and from different industrial sectors (including service and manufacturing sectors). Each case-study focuses upon the innovation process involved in adopting new IT-based systems. Through interviews with company managers, technology suppliers and consultants, each case builds out from the innovation process within the firm to map the knowledge flows and inter-organisational networks which have helped to shape it. The development of new system is thus tracked as far as possible through the various 'episodes' that make up the innovation process, from the initial choice of new technology to its implementation with end users.

The comparative and qualitative nature of the research is designed to produce benefits for a range of groups. The collaborating organisations benefit from feedback on the quality and effectiveness of their own knowledge networks and from access to the wider data set produced by the study. The wider industrial community benefits from the dissemination of best practice/novel practice on the management of increasingly complex innovation processes. Finally, policy-makers and academics are provided with a deeper understanding of the differential formation and impact of network relations on the innovation process, particularly in terms of the influence of different sectoral and national environments.

Research Output

Journal Articles

Hislop, D. (2002). 'The client role in consultancy relations during the appropriation of technological innovations', Research Policy, 31, 5: 657-671. 

Newell, S., Scarbrough, H. and Swan, J. (2001). 'From global knowledge management to internal electronic fences: Contradictory outcomes of intranet development', British Journal of Management, 12, 2: 97-111.

Hislop, D., Newell, S., Scarbrough, H., Swan, J. (2000). Networks, knowledge and power: decision-making politics and the process of innovation. Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, 12(3), 399-411.

Swan, J., Newell,S., Scarbough, H. and Hislop, D. (1999). 'Knowledge Management and Innovation: networks and networking', Journal of Knowledge Management,  3, 4: 262-275. - link

Hislop, D., Newell, S., Scarbrough, H. and Swan, J. (1997) 'Innovation and networks: Linking diffusion and implementation', International Journal of Innovation Management, Volume 1, 4: 427-448.

Book Chapters

Swan, J. (2003). 'Knowledge Management In Action'. In C W. Holsapple (ed.) Handbook on Knowledge Management. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, pp. 271-296. ISBS 3-540-43527-1

Newell, S., Scarbrough, H., Swan, J. and Hislop D. (2000). 'Intranets and Knowledge Management: De-centred technologies and the limits of technological discourse'. In Prichard, C., Hull, R., Chumer, M. and Willmott, H. (eds.) Managing Knowledge: Critical Investigations of Work and Learning, pp. 88-106, Basingstoke, Hants: Macmillan.

Conference papers

Swan, J., Newell, S. and Robertson, M. (2000). Limits of IT-driven Approaches: Towards a Community-Based Model of Knowledge Management for Innovation. Proceedings of 33rd Hawaii International  Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-33) 10 pages. 

Swan, J. and Newell, S. (2000). Contextualising knowledge management for innovation, Proceedings of Information Resources Management Association, Alaska, May pp. (7 pages). 

Swan, J. A., and Newell, S. (2000). Linking knowledge management and innovation.  European Conference on Information Systems, Vienna, July, pp. 591-598.  

Newell, S., Swan, J and Scarbrough, H. (1999). 'Knowledge Management and Intranets: Contradictory outcomes'. 32nd Hawaiian International Conference on Systems Sciences, IEEE Computer Society Press (10 pages) 

Newell, S., Swan, J. and Galliers, R. (1999). 'The Intranet as a knowledge management tool: Creating new electronic fences'. Proceedings of  IRMA Conference, Hershey, USA, 8 pages 

Newell, J. Swan , J, and Scarbrough, (1999). 'Intranets and Knowledge Management: De-centred technologies and the limits of technological discourse'. Critical Management Conference, UMIST, Manchester (cd rom). 

Hislop, D., Newell, S., Scarbrough, H. and Swan, J.  (1999). 'Boundary Spanning in IT Innovation'. Critical Management Conference, UMIST, Manchester, (cd rom)

Project Team:

Sue Newell
Harry Scarbrough
Jacky Swan
D Hislop