Understanding knowledge as rooted in application implicates understanding knowledge as emergent. Knowledge emerges from how people do things in a social environment (Orlikowski, 2002). Here, I want to suggest a few factors, which have an influence on how knowledge emergences in an organizational context.
What we do or don’t do, influences what we will know or not know. Tasks are a natural way to guide what is being done and what not. It can be assumed that knowledge emergences around the execution of tasks.
Processes as a number of interrelated tasks can provide an overarching framework for the emergence of knowledge in the execution of the individual tasks. These can both reinforce or hinder the processes, which lead to execution of the tasks.
Organizational Structures and Social Networks
The structures of an organization and the social networks provide another framework in which knowledge emergence. For instance, in the interactions between people new distributed capability can be built up in the process of fulfilling a number of tasks, which are not necessarily connected by processes.
Technologies provide a framework for the emergence of knowledge in that they channel activities by their capabilities and limitations. For instance, text-centric knowledge emerges from using Microsoft Word, narrative and visual knowledge emerges from using digital camcorders.
Sometimes just totally unforeseen events have a strong influence on the emergence of knowledge. Serendipity, for instance, is sometimes said to have not-negligible influence on the process of scientific discovery (Beveridge, 1980; Rosenman, 2002).
Strategies and Directions
Strategies and directions set a framework for what knowledge can emerge.
When a certain path provides more rewards than another, it is a natural decision to prefer the more rewarding way. This can be a powerful channelling mechanism for knowledge emergence.
Personal Abilities, Preferences and Histories
Every person is both enabled and restrained by their unique set of abilities, preferences and experiences. These have strong influence on the emergence of knowledge related to every person.
Culture is sometimes understood as shared historically constructed reality. Likewise to the personal abilities and histories, culture is both and enabler and restrainer of knowledge emergence.
Beauty, Coherence and Truth
Beauty, coherence and truth can be further factors influencing the emergence of knowledge. In this context, it simplifies the discussion to understand these terms not as absolute but as socially constructed. In that, these constructs can help in understanding why some ideas seem to be more successful than others (Dawkins, 2006).
A careful consideration and balancing of these factors can lead to an environment, in which the emergence of knowledge can flourish. Of course, some of these factors are easier to actively influence than others.