Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

The Value of Diversity in Creating Organisational Knowledge

Andy Earwaker.


This paper considers the proposition that organisations need to fully utilise the knowledge of all their workforce if they are to add value to services and remain viable within their operating environment. Diversity has tended to be confused with deviance and as such has been wrongly perceived as a threat to organisational stability. In reality it is a naturally occurring phenomena without which evolutionary progression and development is not possible. Properly managed, diversity of experience and thought leads to creative tension which challenges old preconceptions, and stimulates new ideas as the basis of innovation.

Knowledge in organisations exists at a number of different levels and is influenced by a range of psycho-social dynamics. Discourse and social interaction between individuals are explored as pre-requisites for the sharing of knowledge. It is suggested that dialogue, however, has an important role in developing and maintaining self in a social context which means that new knowledge acquisition is often a secondary and lesser outcome. Whilst therefore diversity might itself be natural, a degree of contrivance is required to optimise the benefits for a collective purpose. Organisations must be proactive in creating the necessary climate of trust and shared meanings to encourage the free flow of ideas, opinions and practice which can lead to new ways of doing things.

There is a risk that the volume and variety of views thus encouraged could be counter productive and organisations also therefore need to be clear about the combinations of experience and skill which might best generate ideas congruent with corporate aims and objectives. The paper concludes that modern managers require a wide understanding of the issues surrounding knowledge creation and transfer together with the implications for working practice. A variety of strategies and tools for this purpose are explored.

Presenters

Andy Earwaker  (United Kingdom)
Strategic Business Manager
Social and Caring Services
West Sussex County Council

I am a senior manager in Social Services responsible for Strategic Support Services. In addition to 30 years experience in a variety of public sector roles I have also worked as a lecturer in management with Portsmouth University and in the same capacity for the Open University Business School. I have an MBA (with Distinction) from Portsmouth and I am currently following my academic interests by completing a part-time PhD, also at Portmouth University, focused on Knowledge Creation and Transfer in the Public Sector.

Keywords
  • Diversity
  • Organisational Knowledge
  • Discourse
  • Dialogue
  • Psycho-social Relations
  • Management Tools



(Virtual Presentation, English)