The role of institutionalization mechanisms in supporting individual knowing acquisition

  • Siew Bee Yeo

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Organizations have long been concerned with the creation and maintenance of competitive advantage to remain viable in the long term in a highly competitive global economy. However, having such an advantage requires organizations to have resources that are rare, non-imitable, non-substitutable and valuable. Of the various possible resources, firm specific knowledge and knowing have been thought of as key resources for sustained competitive advantage. The creation of such key resources would require the presence of institutionalization, given the latter’s emphasis in organizational learning, organizational knowledge creation and knowledge management studies. Yet studies on learning and knowledge in organizations have focused mostly on knowledge rather than knowing, which does not give us much clarity as to the effectiveness of institutionalization to support knowing acquisition. To address the lack of clarity on the role of institutionalization in knowing acquisition, this study seeks to understand how individuals acquire knowing as compared to the institutionalization mechanisms put in place to support knowing acquisition. This research adopts a qualitative single-site case study research methodology with the utilization of in-depth semi-structured interviews, supported by document reviews, to understand individuals’ interpretations of their experiences of how knowing has been acquired. The data analysis of the interviews was completed using a two-level coding approach, while the document reviews provide additional data to determine if knowing has been acquired. The findings from the study shows that knowing can be either operational or strategic, and that different institutionalization mechanisms have different impacts on knowing acquisition. The study also surfaces institutionalization factors that affect the effectiveness of institutionalization mechanisms to support knowing acquisition. Further, the study confirms and extends the only study on knowing acquisition for organizational knowing creation, which is Cook and Brown’s (1999) bridging epistemologies theoretical framework. The augmentation of their framework includes the additional components of on-the-job learning, and personal and institutionalization factors. Besides this theoretical contribution towards Cook and Brown’s (1999) theory ,the study also contributes towards a better understanding of institutionalization in relation to knowing acquisition. This addresses the gap in the extant literature by bringing together two concepts that were rarely discussed together.
    Date of Award2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDeborah Blackman (Supervisor) & Birgit Muskat (Supervisor)

    Cite this