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Title: Architectures of knowledge : from reusable assets to unique outcomes
Author: Miraglia, Stefano
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis comprises three papers that investigate how organisations reproduce and alter their products in response to the tension between stability and change resulting from their interactions with the environment. The first two papers hold a knowledge management perspective. They use constant comparison methods to analyse qualitative data from two multinational corporations that have succeeded for decades in simultaneously standardising and customising systems of products and services delivered to business customers. These systems are studied as architectures of knowledge-embedding assets that are replicated and reused across time and space, but also adapted to fit the contexts of utilisation. The first paper identifies the process by which the two firms balance and combine the apparently diverging objectives of stable reutilisation and fit with changing conditions. The second paper finds that organisational knowledge undergoes similar patterns of evolutionary change independently of the specific type of asset in which it is embedded. Overall, findings advance our theory of organisational knowledge by opening a new perspective on the intrinsic nature of this resource. Context-dependence emerges as the only persistent and ineludible property of knowledge that characterises its transfer as search for fit between contexts, and makes replication and adaptation necessarily interdependent, and mutually enabling and reinforcing. Moreover, knowledge appears as the most elemental genetic material of organisational living, as the change and evolution of products, activities, routines and ultimately organisations can be explained and studied as evolutionary changes occurring in the underlying knowledge. The third paper holds a systems theory perspective, and reports a conceptual analysis of the interplay between two architectural properties of systems - modularity, and integrality - and their impact on the overall system's behaviour and performance. The paper offers a reconceptualisation of modularity and integrality as coexisting and concurring properties of systems. A framework is presented within which the interplay between these two architectural properties along multiple dimensions shapes four specific types of system architectures.
Supervisor: Davies, Andrew; George, Gerard Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available