Monday, February 04, 2008

Share and Share Alike in The Relationship Economy

Sharing Knowledge can and does occur in our social networks. We’ll cover these more later, but for now let’s look at how the two can intersect.

•Knowledge is central to economic development with new technology.

•The development of new technology doesn’t just happen, it depends on initiatives.

•Development begins with the recognition of a need, and it results in change

  • Change to the way we do things.
  • Needs are often recognized when a few people get together and discuss their wants and desires.
  • This happens often when people network.

•Self-organizing networked social systems generate shared knowledge

•This shared knowledge can benefit many of the network members. The only thing that limits knowledge dissemination is the method used to transfer the information and the limitations or restrictions placed on it by those who hold the knowledge.

•The Internet circumvents imbalanced relationships by removing restrictions for those who seek information.

•How many industries have we seen opening up since the Internet became an integral part in so many people’s lives?

•Automobile sales were one of the first to experience the infiltration of informed customers, thanks to Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book

•The insurance industry has likewise been affected

•Mortgages and other loans, stocks and other investments, even simple banking transactions can occur with an institution we never physically visit.

•The medical field is experiencing an increase in informed patients with companies like WebMD

•And there are many more, and more to come.

So what’s in it for me?

In The Relationship Economy, the sharing of knowledge (like the sharing of many other factors) will produce revenue. Another way of saying that is by sharing knowledge you are engaging in economic development. Let’s examine economic development from a two different perspectives.

Personal economic development benefits the individual, who must acquire and implement the knowledge, and their family, who benefits from contributions by all of its members. We are all part of an organization of some kind, so let's look at it from a wider perspective. Organizational economic development benefits the smaller groups, like one’s team or section, which also benefits the individual (and their families). Economically benefited individuals and groups ultimately benefit the whole organization. And from an even broader perspective . . .

Community economic development starts at the local level, where projects including workforce education and development are launched and nurtured so they can raise the income of those (individuals) in need. At the state level, economic development includes a variety of cooperative projects and strategic expansion initiatives. Sometimes there are regional developments that engage in economic stimulation – often these are cooperative operations with private and public organizations. When economic development occurs on a national scale, there are multitudes of players involved. Projects at this level take a significant amount of planning

But we don’t like to change!

It’s difficult to get people to change – even if it is in their best interests. It can be even more difficult to get groups of people to change. Ultimately, in order to provide an environment for change there must be an identified need.

Some examples of needs (or wants) resulting in change include:

Open Source software

Open source is a software development method that uses distributed peer review and transparency of process. The need that brought about the The Open Source Initiative (OSI) was better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.

The OSI is a non-profit corporation formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to link different open-source community constituencies.

Creative Commons licensing

•Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. Individuals can use private rights to create public goods: creative works set free for certain uses.

•Creative Commons can clearly identify copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved."

Voice over Internet Protocol

•Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), allows you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line. Some VoIP services are proprietary, others allow you to call anyone who has a telephone number, and some services allow you to use a traditional phone connected to a VoIP adapter.

Video creating and sharing

•A variety of new technologies, websites, and social network domains like Facebook and MySpace, has motivated large numbers of individuals to create videos and post them on the Internet. This trend crosses the individual and corporate space, and is expected to continue to grow. Current examples include YouTube, MySpace, and Google Videos.


A blog (web log) is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.

Network Power

The power of a network is related to the amount of knowledge held by the individual members, how much they share with others (and re-use from others), the number of others with whom they share and the capability of the network to generate new knowledge.

For an organization, the network power equation requires.

•Hire and retain people who have a high level of expertise (and therefore a large amount of knowledge).

•Hire and retain people who are natural sharers.

•Hire a diverse population of people so that the knowledge they have is varied; i.e., there is enough similarity so that they can understand each other, but not so much that they all know the same things.

•Put in place a work environment that encourages and enables knowledge sharing.

The bottom line is power is knowledge shared. Through knowledge management, you can increase the power of your organization exponentially to solve problems, to invent new methods, and to overcome physical distance.

(Smith, 2001)

Technology-Enhanced Synergy

Synergy happens when a group of diverse individuals gets together and collaborates. When forming a strategic team, it is important to find a variety of personality styles, backgrounds, and experiences. Only by interacting with a heterogeneous group can we experience the real power of collaboration. The results of these collaborations often contribute to the overall knowledge base. Previously established networks can also be used to disseminate this collective knowledge.

There have been many recent examples of technology-enhanced synergy. Though many of these exist in the software world, their application in similar models in the “real world” can be easily accomplished.

Wiki is software that allows users to create, edit, and link web pages easily. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. Wiki is from a Hawaiian word for "fast." A defining characteristic of wiki technology is the ease with which pages can be created and updated. Wiki technology and style has been used to create





Quotes Listings

Search Tools

Learning Resources

(Wiki, 2008)

Open Courseware is a free and open digital publication of “high quality” educational materials, organized as courses. The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a collaboration of more than 100 higher education institutions and associated organizations using a shared model. The consortium includes:

Defense Acquisition University

Harvard Law

Johns Hopkins


Michigan State

UMass Boston

UC Irvine

Notre Dame

. . . and many others

Topics come from a variety of academic subjects, including Philosophy, Biology, Calculus, International Relations, Adolescent Health, and Statistical Reasoning are offered – completely free. (

So where do we start?

What do we need to do to create a Knowledge Sharing Culture? We need to start with making knowledge sharing the norm in our life and the life of our organization (Gurteen, 1999). We need to regularly encourage people to work together more effectively, to collaborate and to share. This will help instill the habit in the lives of others in the organization, and will go a long way toward making organizational knowledge more productive

But remember:

  • We are talking about sharing knowledge and information – not just information.
  • We share knowledge to help the organization meet its objectives. We are not doing it for its own sake.
  • Making knowledge productive is as important as sharing knowledge.
  • Changing a culture is tough. It means seeing the world in a different way, and revealing hidden paradigms like the tacit acceptance that “knowledge is power”.

It starts with you!

  • Knowledge sharing begins with the individual. Each of us has his or her job, objectives, and sphere of influence.
  • Sharing is about being more open in your way of work and in your relationships with other people.

(Gurteen, 1999)

We can get there from here!

The most effective way to create a knowledge sharing culture is to start at our level. The higher up we go in the organization the more effective we will be in changing the knowledge sharing culture, but we have to start where we are. We must implement knowledge sharing and show others the results.

An organization’s knowledge assets include explicit knowledge (concepts, procedures, and routines) and tacit knowledge (experience, relationships, and know-how) (Chun, Williams, & Granados, 2007). An organization’s knowledge assets develop over time, and can be difficult to manage. Quite often the knowledge needed to solve a given problem already exists within an organization, but locating the person, document, or server holding the knowledge is challenging. Many of us have our own methods for knowledge management. Is your desk covered with sticky-notes? How do you retain knowledge that you know you will need some day? Hopefully some of the ideas you have seen here will help you in your quest for knowledge sharing!

What do you think?


Chun, M., Williams, M., & Granados, N. (2007). Managing Organizational Knowledge: Insights offered from the Southern California aerospace industry for managing knowledge assets. Available at

Gurteen, D. (1999) Creating a Knowledge Sharing Culture. Available at

Smith, R. (2001, May 9) Knowledge Management – The Road Ahead. Presented at "Unleashing the Power of Partnerships", the 2nd Conference & Expo of the Staff Exchange Program of The World Bank Group, Washington, D.C.. Available at

Wiki. (2008, January 30). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:38, February 1, 2008, from

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