The Inner Workings of Nonaka’s SECI: Explorations with MNCs, and a tweakable ‘laboratory’ process for studying it
Professor Marie Harder
31st January 2019 at 13:00pm
Mithras House, University of Brighton
The knowledge management theory of Nonaka specifies that knowledge originates in the tacit-tacit space, and goes through cycles of tacit to explicit, explicit to explicit, explicit to tacit, and at every ‘conversion’, learning occurs. A healthy business would thus manage its knowledge management through careful consideration of these processes.
However, Nonaka mainly focusses on the characteristics needed for good managers, in order for them to obtain the best results for a business. Considerable emphasis is put on operations which might best result in appropriate conversions. Much less is mentioned about any sub-processes or micro-processes which are required or sufficient, and for what related specific gains.
In this seminar I will introduce some work we have done on micro-processes occurring, especially in tacit-explicit conversion, using a group process known as WeValue where the facilitator can tweak the micro-processes to obtain different, generally predictable, macro-results. The approach was originally developed using design-based thinking, i.e. empirically and intuitively based, but due to the reproducibility of the resulting types of learning, is now being linked to theories (such as Polanyi’s Personal Knowledge Concepts, and Mezirow’s transformational Learning), and used to systematically analyse the SECI processes into micro-processes.
In a different study, the approach was used in 10 Chinese MNCs to produce measures of the shared values-in-action of managers, and to then compare these to ‘headquarter values’ to determine the status of value congruity across borders. Interviews with 70 Chinese managers provided data on how they tackled problems of recontextualising values with their staff.
Marie Harder was trained in physics, but moved into highly inter-disciplinary and transdisciplinary topics shortly afterwards. By using a co-design approach emphasising face-validity of measurement, she developed indicators for ‘intangible’ aspects of work of civil society groups, in an EU FP7 research project ending in 2010 which she led. The approach proved to be the kernel needed for a portfolio of techniques for making ‘intangible’ aspects of group work, ‘tangible’. She has thus continued to develop a platform of work making contributions in soft evaluation, beyond GDP, environmental management, climate change adaptation, business, education, and other topics. Her related new approach to participatory methods has just been taken up by a Global Challenges Hub for delivery on child stunting in Indonesia, India and Senegal. See wevalue.org for more (out of date… ) information.
Marie was appointed a China National Thousand Talents Professor to Fudan University in 2011, where she continues to spend 6-9 months each year. She returns to the University of Brighton for 3-6 months each year.