chapter  3
Knowledge and innovation in organizations
Pages 32

Knowledge is fiercely argued to be very important for the sustainability of any business. What is striking though, is that knowledge and innovation have been approached theoretically, and treated in practice as two separated phenomena. Only recently theorists began to argue that the two phenomena have their roots in similar processes, and that the two bodies of literature have much to share to broaden our understanding. In this chapter, I track these common elements between the two literatures, and discuss the discourses on the value of knowledge for the ‘knowledge organization’. I then examine the technologies that are subsequently developed within these discourses and promise to ‘support’ those organizations that wish to get actively engaged in creating or ‘discovering’ and sharing precious knowledge. I review in more detail different approaches to innovation and conclude with the view that innovation discourse is essentially political, since at its core lies knowledge. My main argument is that the existing mainstream approaches, which suggest the technical or cultural management of innovation, neglect the power struggles enacted in the organization, struggles that result from the stakeholders’ personal and group interests from defining what ‘innovation’ is, what is accepted as ‘good’ and what is rejected; hence innovation analysis should address issues of power. I conclude with an evaluation of the knowledge management discourse, which I conceptualize as a hard scientific formation, and a short discussion about the role of managers as political actors who have an interest in complying with the knowledge management discourse.