Thursday, April 02, 2009

Phronesis: Early Knowledge Transfer Casualty

Phronesis: Early Knowledge Transfer Casualty

A combination of implicit and explicit knowledge is being transferred according to Howard and I focus my skills in commercialization in the realms of building and managing knowledge relationships. The means and modality define competitive success if we agree “knowledge is power” or the right combinations of useful information must be collated to provide newer and better insights into future scenarios planning.

For example the questionable ethics of tacit knowledge are evident in our current global fiscal recession and reminds me very much of the dangers of rampant community-oriented nepotism and cognitive dissonance or acting or proceeding in accordance with a group regardless of ethical dilemma. Many perceive executives to possess an excessive advantage in terms of golden parachutes as described by the annoying Max Keiser. It appears even KPMG is not immune from ethical disputes as exemplified by Wall Street Journal’s recent article concerning New Century Financial Corporation. Again in Zhan, we may be relying too heavily on poorly foundational pillars of perceived ethical standards with reference to Andersen Consulting whose explicit knowledge management systems did not prevent or discourage moral hazard in the case of Enron. For many businesses ethics management appears not profitable unless it is a case of hindsight.

As regarding Aristotle I am really more interested in what Socrates may have had to say about ethics however sadly he was too despised to be permitted any remaining works or perhaps all of his explicit writing were simply stolen by his students who outlived him. Had he not been forced to drink Hemlock perhaps he might have chosen to author his own texts in his twilight years?

I seek to focus on explicit to explicit knowledge transfer in combination with reference to Nonaka and Takeuchi while reserving implicit knowledge in the form of non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements mostly because I believe little knowledge is actually known only to me and I rarely feel as if I possess my own thoughts as a product of culture and community have assisted my filter in defining individual thought as according to Edward T. Hall in The Silent Language.

What an interesting sidebar – Phronesis which recalls a few of my own studies in Roman Art, Archeology and Culture. I believe it has merit and relevance to this discussion thus include this discourse in its entirety on my blog.

The Library of Celsus at Epeheus illustrates that Greek ethics have early remained culturally unrefined; ethics indeed was omitted from our cultural lexicon of transferred Greek values and knowledge. Built in 117 AD The Library of Celsus, the largest of its kind prior to that at Alexandria demonstrated core Greek concepts attributed to learning in its quartet of statuary. Displayed characters were wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Epsiteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and virtue (Arrete).

The concept of ethics itself may then be seen as an implicit cognitive development free of codification as early as the Roman Empire. In fact, even the original statuary were transferred to the Imperial Palace Museum in Wein, following Austrian excavations of the site in the last century by permission probably due to the fact that Sultans and Caliphates in Constantinople were so highly indebted to European banks in their final centuries of rule. Bankruptcy proceeded mostly due to the fact that Ottoman-Turk Empire expansion was limited due to an inability to absorb more territories in Europe paradoxically at the walls of Vienna as described by Lord Kinross in the fascinating book The Ottoman Centuries. This is all relevant to the current American Empire and its future evolution.

Sanchez highlights a few darlings of the explicit knowledge movement such as Daimler-Chrysler which is no more. As a child of the 1980s I recall when Motorola pagers were as large as walkie-talkies and were limited in use to doctors and firemen who appeared to respond to them most frequently during long homilies at church on Sundays. Fast-forward to Korea in the mid-nineties when pagers suddenly appeared on the market as small as Zippo lighters and as fashionable as pocket watch chains and fobs where a pernicious and ubiquitous communications culture appeared born. At the same time Motorola’s market share eroded considerably. I suspect that doctors and firemen remain the only sensible market for immediate and pervasive communication which demand an answer often equally immediately or otherwise call five times in a row. However entire global finance and logistics communities might argue differently. Yet I argue knowledge remains quite distinct from profits. Good decisions based on good information is still essential.

Books like Robert B. Cialdini’s, “Influence: Science and Practice” appear to indicate that the practice of ethics is itself as malleable as social conditioning is in its effects on individual behaviour as reciprocity, deference to authority, social proofs, liking and cognitive dissonance are to patterns of human reasoning.

My instructor at Notre Dame, Joseph A Holt describes ethics as something which is generally learned at a young age at home in a family environment and encourages students to act ethically at all times attempting to compare choices with personal beliefs. At the same time Charles Hampden Turner in “From Poverty to Dignity: a strategy for poor Americans” describes American lack of cultural self-identity as possibly being one of its essential flaws as a society in an inability to self-identify with the larger community. This might be extended to all western cultural values systems.

Thus our attitudes to implicit and explicit knowledge transfer may remain heavily influenced by the social factors of research or business corporate culture and as in the days of Rome and as in the concepts of quality itself described by Evans and Lindsay et. al. in The Management and Control of Quality.

So much of our consideration of the ethics of knowledge transfer relies on the examples and demands of our leaders. In an era of “laissez-faire” it is easy to see where we have gone wrong in terms of ethics “anything goes” has never worked indefinitely. It is then essential that successful research leadership demands consideration of ethical dilemmas on an implicit and tacit level.

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