hrd across the globe - HRDI 5:1(2002 pp 2353 Across the...

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Across the great divide: HRD, technology translation, and knowledge migration in bridging the knowledge gap between SMEs and Universities Paul Iles and Maurice Yolles Liverpool Business School, Liverpool John Moores University Abstract: Knowledge is increasingly claimed to be a key critical resource and source of competitive advantage in the modern global economy, especially with the rise of the service economy, the growth in the number of ‘knowledge workers’, the increasingly rapid ow of global information, and the growing recognition of the importance of intellectual capital and intellectual property rights. It is also increasingly claimed that all organizations will have to excel at creating, exploiting, applying, and mobilizing knowledge. The resource- based view of the rm suggests that organizations will need to be able combine distinctive, sustainable, and superior assets, including sources of knowledge and information, with complementary competencies in leadership and human resource management and development to fully realize the value of their knowledge. Issues include how organizations should be structured to promote knowledge creation and mobilization and how to develop a culture and set of HRD policies and practices that harness knowledge and leverage it to meet objectives. It is often asserted that many SMEs in particular appear to be failing to exploit the information, knowledge, and skills in the knowledge base (KB) embodied in higher education, research institutes, and large companies. Technology translators, able to act as intermediaries between the SME and the KB – in a sense, as brokers and facilitators of learning, using interpersonal, creative, and functional skills – were seen as one response to this challenge. This paper describes one project aimed at developing such ‘technology translators’, and presents a model of viable knowledge management and HRD in SMEs developed after critical re ection on this case study. A research agenda for the study of SME–HE collaboration and other kinds of partnerships, such as alliances, mergers, and joint ventures, using the knowledge-creation cycle and knowledge typology developed in the paper is also outlined. Keywords: knowledge management, SMEs, HRD, technology translation, UK, viable systems Introduction Knowledge is increasingly recognized as a key organizational asset and its creation, dissemination, and application as a critical source of competitive advantage (e.g. Lester 1996; Lloyd 1996; Marshall et al . 1996). This process is often seen as requiring the deployment of a combination of core skills and competencies, including those in information management as well as in human resource management and development. Human Resource Development International ISSN 1367-8868 print/ISSN 1469-8374 online © 2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd DOI: 10.1080/13678860110007184 HRDI 5:1 (2002), pp. 23–53
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These include the creation and maintenance of organizational structures and cultures that facilitate organizational, team, and individual learning and the sharing of knowledge and information. Much recent work on knowledge management (KM) has come from
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