Volume 13, Issue 3, 2014
Loyal Talents, Distorted Knowledge?
Lars Frølund, Morten Ziethen
The Hermeneutics of Knowledge Creation in Organisations
This paper argues that it is possible (and recommendable) to develop a new conceptual framework based on the tradition of philosophical hermeneutics to address what one could call “the human factor” within knowledge creation in organisations. This is done firstly through a review of the epistemological roots of three main theories of knowledge creation in organisations (systemic theory, complexity theory, and social constructionism). We examine these theories along two axes: a) their understanding of the relation between person and language, and b) the controllability of knowledge creation. Secondly, we restate the question of knowledge creation in organisations from the perspective of philosophical hermeneutics, arguing that knowledge creation takes place as an event in language, that is as an uncontrollable process which nonetheless requires courage, trust, and persistence and thereby requires that certain “ethical actions” should happen. This, finally, leads us to develop a model for knowledge creation called LUGS, which insists on the intrinsic relation between epistemology and practice, i.e. between what people come to know and how they decide to be – and it is this intrinsic relation between knowledge and being that we take as the “message” of this article.