Contextual criticality of knowledge-flow dynamics: the tragedy of friendly fire
Nissen, Mark E.
Jones, Carl R.
Thomas, Gail Fann
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Recent research has produced models that improve our ability to identify, describe and explain a diversity of knowledge-flow patterns that manifest themselves in various enterprises, which improves our efficacy in designing organizations and processes. But enterprises do not all operate in the same environmental context and current theory is relatively silent on contextual implications of knowledge flow. The research described in this technical report builds upon current theory to explicitly address the contextual implications of knowledge flow in terms of organization and process design. Using a recently developed, multidimensional model to characterize and delineate a variety of enterprise knowledge flows, we integrate key aspects of Coordination Theory and extend this model to address context. The use, utility and implications of this extended model are described through application to an extreme case in which knowledge flows are embedded within a hazardous, time-critical context with mortal consequences: a military friendly fire incident in Northern Iraq. The extreme nature of this application case provides revelatory insight into the contextual importance of knowledge-flow dynamics, and by using such an extreme case for application, we enhance the generalizability of our model to less extreme environments that are more commonly associated with non-military enterprises (e.g., corporations, governmental agencies)
NPS Report NumberNPS-GSBPP-03-002
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