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Successful knowledge sharing relates more to leading knowing in practice than managing knowledge. As such, this book offers an alternative perspective to that of traditional knowledge management, and stresses that achieving sustainable success calls for a new approach to knowledge sharing.

TRUE PARTNERSHIP AS TRUE LEARNING KNOWLEDGE SHARING WITHIN MANNHEIMER SWARTLING

ANNA JONSSON

01 02 FnL1 EkZpcm1hIEpvaG4gUGVyc3NvbgRKb2hu AFKEnY4= 02 0040

Anna Jonsson is Associate Professor/ Docent at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg. Her research focuses mainly on the consequences of globalization and international business and the need for knowledge sharing within organizations to meet these challenges.

The aim of this book is to outline a discussion on how, and why, knowledge is shared in practice, and what it takes to achieve an elite identity organization and sustainable success through job satisfaction – for the fortunate. Comparisons are made with another successful Swedish company, IKEA. From studying the way in which knowledge is shared in practice within these two organizations, it is clear that the foundations of successful knowledge sharing are a strong learning culture and a perception that the individual’s learning and development is important for the development of a firm that is guided by a Swedish leadership style that calls for consensus, a shared vision and collaboration.

TRUE PARTNERSHIP AS TRUE LEARNING

True Partnership as True Learning is ultimately a book about satisfaction. It is a book about working at, and being part of the Swedish law firm Mannheimer Swartling. More specifically, it is a book about knowledge sharing.

IUSTUS FÖRLAG

ANNA JONSSON

This book focuses on what, how and why knowledge sharing is important at Mannheimer Swartling. It summarizes some of the most important tools and methods used not only in the sharing, but also in the development of, information, knowledge and knowing.


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True Partnership as True Learning Knowledge sharing within Mannheimer Swartling

Anna Jonsson

IUSTUS FĂ–RLAG

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Contents

Preface 7 Knowledge sharing within organizations 13 Outlining an understanding of knowledge sharing 22

Knowledge sharing within mannheimer swartling Defining knowledge sharing Sharing types and forms of knowledge – sharing what? Tools and methods for knowledge sharing – sharing how? Motivation and work satisfaction – why share knowledge?

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27 28 32 38 58

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True partnership as true l­ earning

64

Knowledge sharing as a process for learning 70 A structure for knowledge sharing 72 A culture for learning 76 True partnership as true learning – the Mannheimer Swartling way 81

Successful knowledge sharing for sustainable success A sustainable approach for understanding knowledge sharing What it takes, and why, to succeed in knowledge sharing Leading knowledge sharing in practice – as opposed to managing knowledge

89 92 111 117

Acknowledgements 122 References 124 Appendix 130 About the study

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Knowledge sharing within organizations

it is now generally recognized that an efficient

exchange of knowledge is crucial to business success. In fact, almost everyone is keen to promote the importance of knowledge and the ability to share it. Few, if any, would argue to the contrary: that knowledge is not important, or that knowledge should not be shared with others. In our post-industrial society, everyone is eager to jump on the knowledge bandwagon and talk about knowledge, believing it will offer opportunities for success and wellbeing. This is largely because knowledge is no longer regarded as simply one resource amongst others, but is widely considered to be the resource that offers the best opportunities for competitive advantage.4 The reason for   See for example Spender and Grant (1996) and their argument on the knowledge-based view of the firm. 4

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this is that knowledge is regarded as a valuable resource because it is difficult to copy, and because knowledge increases as it is being used.5 Successful organizations are those that are better able than others to both make use of existing knowledge and develop new knowledge as a means to becoming both more efficient and innovative; it is not a question of either/or. However, although most people are keen to talk about knowledge and knowledge sharing, not everyone is successful in their efforts to manage knowledge sharing. Why is that? The short, pragmatic answer is that successful firms practise knowledge sharing– rather than just talk (or write) about it. However, a more extensive answer is that knowledge sharing is complex; we may understand and discuss its benefits and the opportunities it brings for success, but this does not mean knowledge is shared automatically. There are several reasons for this. First of all, it is important to underline that knowledge per se is difficult to define and, therefore, also difficult to manage.6 In fact, knowledge is not simply a “thing”, but can be understood and defined in a number of ways, depending on our epistemological and ontological perspective. In short, knowledge can be defined either as a static object (as a thing) or as a process (as in knowing).7   Following Adler (2001) and Itami and Roehl 1987.   See for example Styhre (2003) for a critical review of the concept of knowledge management. 7   See for example Empson (2001) and Schultze and Stabell (2004). 5 6

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How we define knowledge has, or should have, consequences not only for determining which theoretical perspective we take on knowledge sharing, but also for how we develop and try to match various tools and methods for knowledge sharing. Another reason why knowledge sharing is complex is that knowledge is a source of competitive advantage not only for the organization but also for the individual co-worker. A co-worker may be reluctant to share his or her knowledge for a number of reasons; these are related mainly to status and the power that arises from being the only person, or perhaps one of only a small number of people, to possess that knowledge.8 Another explanation for why knowledge is not always easily shared is that the individual co-worker may not be aware of what his or her colleagues might want, or need, to know; or vice versa, which is also linked to another common barrier – prestige, or being afraid to ask for advice. Lack of knowledge may be due to a lack of interest in the work of others or simply to a lack of awareness of the firm’s vision and value chain and how sharing knowledge amongst specialists or functions might contribute to the organization as a whole. It may also relate to the fact that co-workers often do not know how to share knowledge, or which tools or methods to use; or it may be that the organizational structure does not support in practice the natural knowledge sharing  See for example Leistner (2010) for a list of common barriers to knowledge sharing. 8

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that takes place. It is essential to be aware of such barriers to, or factors for, knowledge sharing if we want to develop or further improve knowledge sharing within organizations. Although it is not within the scope of this book to outline a discussion on the different theoretical perspectives on knowledge sharing, it is important to stress that, although the knowledge management literature has dominated the discussion on how to best manage knowledge and knowledge sharing, other related research areas such as organizational learning, strategic management, the learning organization and the literature on knowing in practice also focus on various aspects of knowledge ­sharing.9 There is, however, a danger that anyone interested in understanding how to better manage knowledge within an organization will only be introduced to the knowledge management literature and related practices. That goes with the concept. Yet focusing exclusively on knowledge management carries the risk that the complexity and learning aspects of knowledge sharing will be neglected, since much of this literature takes a static view on knowledge, placing a stronger focus on various technical solutions. The risk is even greater when looking into the early literature of knowledge management. It is important to address the fact that knowledge manage  See for example Jonsson (2013) where I develop this argument further and Jonsson and Tell (2013) for a discussion on the past, present and future of knowledge management. 9

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ment has been subject to severe criticism ever since its emergence as both a theoretical perspective and a practice in the mid-1990s. The theoretical underpinnings, and what is meant by knowledge and management, as in knowledge management, have been called into question, as has the fact that there is little evidence for how knowledge management initiatives have contributed to business success.10 It is interesting to note, however, that although knowledge management has been subject to criticism, it is still a dominant perspective amongst both researchers and practitioners. One reason for this is that it has become an umbrella term for related research11, with the result that few people actually define knowledge management, and that those who do, tend to include and blend related perspectives on knowledge sharing. Another reason is that knowledge management has developed, partly as a result of the criticism, from having a strong focus on technical solutions to more strongly emphasising the human perspective; some researchers refer to this as the first and second generations of knowledge management.12 Nonetheless, and despite the fact that knowledge management has developed in perspective, both researchers and practitioners seem to have opted for the first generation of knowledge management, with  See for example Huysman and Wulf (2006), Leistner (2010) and Styhre (2003). 11   See for examle Alvesson and Kärreman (2001) 12   See for example Carter and Scarbrough (2001) and Hislop (2009). 10

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its strong focus on technical solutions, most probably because this perspective also offers a quick fix and the promise of fast results, by means of various technical solutions used to manage and store knowledge. It is easy to assume that investing in new technical solutions for sharing knowledge, as an object, is less time-consuming than devoting time to learning and human interaction; in other words, when sharing knowledge is understood as a process. Yet successful knowledge sharing requires much more than a quick fix, and much more than a management perspective for how to store and rationalize knowledge using various information technology (IT) and information systems (IS) solutions. Larry Prusak, a knowledge management pioneer, explains why: “Unfortunately, the ideas were flawed. They were not so much wrong as misguided in their approach. Since almost all new movements build on the skeletons of earlier movements, KM [Knowledge Management] looked very much like information management, and, not surprisingly, the results produced by these new KM projects were quite similar to earlier KM projects – disappointing the knowledge advocates and especially the users and clients who were expecting great things from the more effective use of knowledge within the organization.” (Larry Prusak, in Leistner 2010: xii)

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Successful knowledge sharing relates more to leading knowing in practice than managing knowledge. As such, this book offers an alternative perspective to that of traditional knowledge management, and stresses that achieving sustainable success calls for a new approach to knowledge sharing.

TRUE PARTNERSHIP AS TRUE LEARNING KNOWLEDGE SHARING WITHIN MANNHEIMER SWARTLING

ANNA JONSSON

01 02 FnL1 EkZpcm1hIEpvaG4gUGVyc3NvbgRKb2hu AFKEnY4= 02 0040

Anna Jonsson is Associate Professor/ Docent at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg. Her research focuses mainly on the consequences of globalization and international business and the need for knowledge sharing within organizations to meet these challenges.

The aim of this book is to outline a discussion on how, and why, knowledge is shared in practice, and what it takes to achieve an elite identity organization and sustainable success through job satisfaction – for the fortunate. Comparisons are made with another successful Swedish company, IKEA. From studying the way in which knowledge is shared in practice within these two organizations, it is clear that the foundations of successful knowledge sharing are a strong learning culture and a perception that the individual’s learning and development is important for the development of a firm that is guided by a Swedish leadership style that calls for consensus, a shared vision and collaboration.

TRUE PARTNERSHIP AS TRUE LEARNING

True Partnership as True Learning is ultimately a book about satisfaction. It is a book about working at, and being part of the Swedish law firm Mannheimer Swartling. More specifically, it is a book about knowledge sharing.

IUSTUS FÖRLAG

ANNA JONSSON

This book focuses on what, how and why knowledge sharing is important at Mannheimer Swartling. It summarizes some of the most important tools and methods used not only in the sharing, but also in the development of, information, knowledge and knowing.


9789176788684