Higgins, David and Southern, Alan (2007) Complexity Theory and the Role of Knowledge Management in the Knowledge-Based Small Business. In: Proceedings of The 8th European Conference on Knowledge Management. Academic Conferences, Reading, pp. 479-485. ISBN 978-1-905305-53-7

The paper aims to contribute to our understanding of the knowledge creation process in the knowledge-based small business. The authors consider how a complexity science perspective of knowledge is useful in this regard. So for example, the complexity of knowledge creation might be seen as systemic as no one individual knowledge agent can operate in an isolated and self-sufficient manner. Additionally, the social structures of the small business involve relations and patterns of behaviour that have become established across time and space. This idea that knowledge is socially and culturally situated lends itself to a qualitative interpretation of the processes evident in the small business.

By drawing on pilot evidence propositions about facilitating knowledge creation as both an individual and collective knowledge appear to co-emerge. This is consistent with the idea that knowledge develops as a process of interaction, as opposed to a managed process and further as Tsoukas (1996) suggests, knowledge in the small business is a socially constructed understanding derived from the interplay between tacit and explicit practices and processes. We seek to examine whether individual knowledge agents exists in a network of relations that are complex and dynamic and if so, reflect on what the boundaries to those networks might be. This supports the view that the nature of knowledge is inherently indeterminate and continually evolving. Further thought on how knowledge and knowing is emergent and produced and reproduced in recurrent social practices allow the authors to reject any ideas that knowledge is static or created as a predetermined outcome. The authors conclude the paper by suggesting knowledge in the small business is embodied as evident in such notions as tacit knowing and learning, and embedded grounded in the situated social historic contexts of individual lives and work.

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