A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Knowledge Management


Joanne Roberts

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    For John

    About the Author

    Joanne Roberts is Professor in Arts and Cultural Management and director of the Winchester Luxury Research Group at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton, UK. She has held posts in the business schools of Newcastle, Durham, and Northumbria Universities, UK. Her research interests include the internationalization of knowledge-intensive services, knowledge transfer, innovation and creativity, and critical perspectives on knowledge in organization and economy. She is currently investigating knowledge and ignorance in the field of luxury. Joanne is a member of several national and international scholarly networks, for example the Academy of International Business, the Critical Management Studies network, the British Academy of Management (BAM), and the Dynamics of Institutions and Markets in Europe (the DIME network of excellence). From 2009 to 2011 she chaired BAM’s annual conference track on knowledge and learning.

    Joanne has written extensively in the fields of business and management. She has published articles in a wide range of international journals, including the Journal of Knowledge Management, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Business Ethics, International Business Review, Management Learning, Research Policy, and The Service Industries Journal. In addition, Joanne is author of Multinational Business Services Firms (Ashgate, 1998) and co-editor of three books: Knowledge and Innovation in the New Service Economy, with A. Andersen, J. Howells, R. Hull and I. Miles (Edward Elgar, 2000); Living with Cyberspace, with J. Armitage (Berg, 2002); and Community, Economic Creativity and Organization, with A. Amin (Oxford University Press, 2008). Joanne is also the co-founder and co-editor of the award-winning journal Critical Perspectives on International Business; an editor of the journal Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation; and member of the editorial board of several journals, including Luxury: History, Culture and Consumption. She is currently co-editing Critical Luxury Studies: Art, Design, Media with John Armitage for Edinburgh University Press.


    The initial idea for this book was discussed with Delia Martinez Alfonso at the British Academy of Management Conference held in Brighton in 2009. I am grateful to her for seeing the book proposal through the review and commissioning stages. I am also grateful to the reviewers of the original proposal for their comments, which helped to shape the book. This project has had a rather long gestation period due to many distractions, and I must thank the team at Sage for their patience when successive deadlines were missed. In particular, Kirsty Smy’s continued support has been vital to the realization of the project, as has the assistance of Nina Smith and Molly Farrell.

    Many of the ideas developed in this book have benefited from presentation at conferences and workshops. Particular thanks go to participants in the Knowledge and Learning track of the British Academy of Management conferences from 2009 to 2011. I am also grateful for the helpful suggestions and comments of the reviewers of earlier drafts of the manuscript, which resulted in important improvements to the text. The book has of course benefited from the collective efforts of all those, past and present, engaged in research on knowledge in organization – to whom I am indebted.

    I am grateful to Taylor & Francis Books for permission to reproduce a quote from Peter Drucker’s (1993) Post-Capitalist Society (Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann). Additionally, I am indebted to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for permission to reproduce in the USA the excerpt from ‘Choruses from “The Rock”’ from The Complete Poems and Plays, 1909–1962 by T.S. Eliot (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 1991) and to Faber and Faber Ltd for permission to reproduce the same excerpt from The Complete Poems and Plays, by T.S. Eliot (London: Faber and Faber, 1969) elsewhere in the world. My thanks also go to Manuela Tecusan for copyediting the text and for her translation of the quote from Diogenes Laertius.

    Last but not least, my deepest thanks go to my partner, John Armitage, without whom this book and so much more would not be possible.

    Should You Buy This Book?

    This book, like others in the ‘Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about’ series, conceived by Chris Grey, is designed mainly for university students – who in this case would be studying knowledge management as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree programme in the field of business and management, or else in computing studies, information management studies, or other related areas. This is not a textbook; it is much shorter, more interesting, and much cheaper than a standard text on knowledge management. What’s more, it’s a lot lighter: it can fit into your pocket and be read in a matter of hours rather than days (it’s ideal for a long train journey or international flight).

    The book might also appeal to academics who study in the field and would like to see a less conventional account of the knowledge management story. Moreover, academics from other disciplines who may wish to have a quick introduction to the field of knowledge management will find the book of value. Although it assumes a certain level of existing knowledge, this text is sufficiently accessible for the general reader keen to gain insight into knowledge management and an understanding of the implications of the shift towards a knowledge-based economy. Hence people who have encountered knowledge management in their workplace or through media reports and are curious to find out more about it will also profit from this book.

    If you do buy this book and wish to take issue with anything you discover in its pages, or if you have experiences of knowledge management practices that can add to our understanding of the field and would like to share your knowledge, please get in touch. I would be delighted to hear from you, so please contact me at J.Roberts@soton.ac.uk

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    Appendix Resources for Studying Knowledge Management

    Recommended reading

    Amin, A. and Cohendet, P. (2004). Architectures of Knowledge: Firms, Capabilities and Communities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Audi, R. (2010). Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge, 3rd edn. London: Routledge.

    DeFillippi, R.J., Arthur, M.B. and Lindsay, V.J. (2006). Knowledge at Work: Creative Collaboration in the Global Economy. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

    Easterby-Smith, M. and Lyles, M.A. (eds) (2011). Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management, 2nd edn. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

    Foray, D. (2006). The Economics of Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Foss, N.J. (2006). Strategy, Economic Organization, and the Knowledge Economy: The Coordination of Firms and Resources. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Hetherington, S. (2012). Epistemology: The Key Thinkers. London: Continuum.

    Hislop, D. (2013). Knowledge Management in Organizations, 3rd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Ichijo, K. and Nonaka, I. (eds) (2006). Knowledge Creation and Management: New Challenges for Managers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    O’Dell, C. and Hubert, C. (2011). The New Edge in Knowledge: How Knowledge Management is Changing the Way We Do Business. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

    Rooney, D., Hearn, G. and Kastella, T. (eds) (2012). Handbook on the Knowledge Economy, Vol. 2. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

    Rooney, D., Hearn, G. and Ninan, A. (eds) (2005). Handbook on the Knowledge Economy. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

    Tsoukas, H. (2005) Complex Knowledge: Studies in Organizational Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Web resources

    The following websites provide useful resources for those interested in exploring knowledge management further:

    All these websites were active on 9 July 2014.

    Academic journals

    There is a growing number of journals concerned with knowledge management. From a survey of 379 experts together with an analysis of journal citation impact data, Alexander Serenko and Nick Bontis (2013: 317) established a list of the 25 journals in the field of knowledge management and intellectual capital. Here are the top 10 journals, in ranking order:

    • Journal of Knowledge Management;
    • Journal of Intellectual Capital;
    • The Learning Organization;
    • Knowledge Management Research & Practice;
    • Knowledge and Process Management;
    • International Journal of Knowledge Management;
    • Journal of Information and Knowledge Management;
    • Journal of Knowledge Management Practice;
    • Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management;
    • International Journal of Learning and Intellectual Capital.

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