Boundaries and knowledge flow

Andrew Sturdy, Karen Handley, Timothy Clark and Robin Fincham

in Management Consultancy

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199212644
Published online May 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191707339 | DOI:
Boundaries and knowledge flow

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Boundaries are shown to be a core element of social science in that they capture fundamental social processes of structuring and relationality. This is linked to a debate in the sociology of knowledge in the 1970s concerning the possibility and value of the knowledge of social ‘insiders and outsiders’. Following Merton, emphasis is placed on the idea of simultaneous and multiple insider — outsider statuses or identities. By drawing on recent organizational and learning literatures (e.g. Nooteboom, Wenger, Orlikowski, and Carlile), three related boundaries are then outlined — physical, cultural and political boundaries — and identified as necessary conditions for knowledge flow. Here, the importance for learning of cultural/cognitive distance between parties is introduced along with boundary contexts of particular importance to the study of consultancy — project working and liminality. The chapter concludes with a framework of boundary relations and dynamics which are drawn on in subsequent chapters.

Keywords: boundaries; cognitive distance; liminality; insider knowledge; project based learning

Chapter.  8425 words. 

Subjects: Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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