A model of knowledge management and the N-form corporation
Version of Record online: 14 JUN 2007
Copyright © 1994 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Strategic Management Journal
Supplement: Chaos theory and strategy: Theory, application, and managerial implications
Volume 15, Issue Supplement S2, pages 73–90, Summer 1994
How to Cite
Hedlund, G. (1994), A model of knowledge management and the N-form corporation. Strat. Mgmt. J., 15: 73–90. doi: 10.1002/smj.4250151006
- Issue online: 14 JUN 2007
- Version of Record online: 14 JUN 2007
A model of knowledge management is developed. It builds on the interplay between articulated and tacit knowledge at four different levels: the individual, the small group, the organization, and the interorganizational domain. The model is applied on differences between Western and Japanese patterns of knowledge management. These are related to organizational characteristics, such as employment systems, career patterns, and organization structure. Effective knowledge management is argued to require departures from the logic of hierarchical organization and the M-form structure. The alternative N-form is characterized and suggested as more appropriate. It entails combination of knowledge rather than its division, which is the basic principle in the M-form. Other attributes of the N-form are: temporary constellations of people, the importance of personnel at ‘lower levels’, lateral communication, a catalytic and architectural role for top management, strategies aimed at focusing and economies of depth, and heterarchical structures.