1. Nowadays, when such phrases as “the age of information” and “the one who owns the information owns the world” are often heard, knowledge becomes one of the most critical factors ensuring the success of the organization in a competitive environment. Therefore, to keep pace with the times, companies start to implement practices aimed at the creation, acquisition, transfer, utilization, and storage of information (knowledge). Units, which are a part of the organization, play a paramount role in this process as their involvement in it has a significant impact on the overall efficiency of knowledge management (KM) practices that are implemented on the enterprise. The presence of the system of knowledge within the organization, as well as mechanisms for its transfer, storage, and reuse, directly influences all of its components, such as units, divisions, services, and even particular employees. All of the units of the company, with no exception, are engaged in the process of the exchange of information or knowledge among them. However, it should be noted that the type of knowledge differs depending on which units of the enterprise are involved in the process of its exchange. For example, the divisions of the firm that have complete access to the knowledge the company possesses occupy privileged positions. Moreover, they are able to influence productivity, performance, knowledge transfer and sharing, as well as innovation processes within the enterprise. Therewith, each unit in the organization has its own distinctive features, including the nature of work it is engaged in and thus the type of knowledge with which it has to deal. As a result, each unit may possess its own knowledge processing (KP) style, varying from the processing of formal documents to the utilization of a developed network of personal contacts.
2. Each unit of the organization keeps a certain set of characteristics and features that determine its place in the knowledge system. The most valuable of them is expertise - the knowledge that is required to perform various tasks. Considering a variety of work within the company, this knowledge may be very different, depending on the unit that uses it. As it was stated before, some units prefer to work on the processing of formal documents (codification) while others utilize a developed network of personal contacts (personalization). As a result, during the initiation and deployment of organizational knowledge, each unit places itself between those two opposite knowledge processing styles. As a knowledge processing style, codification is mainly focused on documentation and the reuse of information, improving the means of its efficient retrieval and storage. It is the most suitable style when it is required to deal with information or knowledge that is related to procedural tasks and operational routines. For example, procedures for handling various accounts can be easily recorded (codified). Hence, while working with explicit knowledge, it is possible to codify it by using formal documents, manuals, databases, etc. However, in most cases, the systematic codification of knowledge, as well as the provision of mechanisms for the search and retrieval of relevant knowledge, requires considerable investment in technology, both in financial and labor senses. On the contrary, personalization is the most efficient knowledge processing style when a unit has to deal with knowledge that is very hard or even impossible to codify due to its tacit and experiential nature. For example, the methods and techniques of successful negotiations with a particular customer are rather difficult to describe and therefore document. Consequently, units that choose personalization as their KP system rely on active interactions between their members in order to share and transfer the necessary information, making the success of this style depend on the communication abilities of people involved in it.
3. Considering the type of knowledge a particular unit of the organization has to deal with, as well as the quantity and affiliation of other units that are engaged in knowledge exchange with it, it is possible to define the three main work unit’s network positions, with each of them possessing certain benefits and features:
- Position of Brokerage - a unit serves as an exclusive channel of information flows among all other units in the network. Units that occupy this position possess the ability to control the flow of communications within the organization. Moreover, they have access to many, if not all, skills, resources, and expertise possessed by the company. Brokers also have an enhanced ability to retrieve knowledge of any type and are invaluable when it is required to obtain diverse expertise or information.
- Position of Proximity - a unit possesses a direct connection with the majority of other members of the network. Units that occupy this position are able to access various data or information quickly. Unlike brokers, they may access only complementary resources and skills. However, they compensate for it with the ability to conduct the effective transfer and search of knowledge. As a result, these units are most useful when it is required to perform knowledge transfer and/or its utilization.
- Position of Prominence - a unit maintains almost continuous information flow with other members of the network. Thus, these units always take the role of a hub of communication and knowledge exchange. In contrast to the two previous positions, such units have access to small amounts of information. Nevertheless, they are provided with opportunities to create new information, as well as transfer and exchange knowledge of tacit and experiential nature, making their presence critical when it is required to create and transfer new knowledge (expertise, skill, etc.).
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