Critically Analyse Some of the Implications for Management of the Perceived Shift from Mode 1 Knowledge Production to Mode 2.

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OWT 224: Question nine - Critically analyse some of the implications for management of the perceived shift from mode 1 knowledge production to mode 2. Knowledge may well be defined as “facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education” (Oxford English Dictionary 2006). Gibbons et al. (1994) introduced the concept of mode 1 and mode 2 knowledge production, the aim of introducing the two modes, “essentially heuristic in that they clarify the similarities and differences between the attributes of each and help us understand and explain trends that can be observed in all modern societies” (Gibbons et al. 1994, p.1). Mode 1 could be described as the dominant, traditional mode of knowledge production; it is knowledge generated within a specific disciplinary, cognitive, and primarily academic context, whilst mode 2 embodies, “knowledge generated outside academic institutions in broader, transdisciplinary social and economic contexts” (Baber 1995). Undoubtedly mode 2 has ever more increasing prominence; he claims “while mode 2 may not be replacing mode 1, mode 2 is different from mode 1 in nearly every respect” (Gibbons et al. 1994, Vii). Mode 2 knowledge is carried out in a context of application, in contrast to mode 1 where problems are set and solved in a context governed by academic interests of a particular community. Mode 2 is trans-disciplinary, whereas mode 1 is disciplinary, Mode 2 is characterised by heterogeneity, mode 1 by homogeneity. Organisationally mode 2 is heterarchical and transients opposed to the more traditional; mode 1 which is hierarchical and tends to preserve its form. Each mode employs a different type of quality control; mode 2 could be said to be more socially accountable and reflexive (Gibbons et al. 1994). “Mode 2 is a response to the needs of both science and society. It is irreversible. The problem is how to understand and manage it.” (Gibbons et al. 1994, p.11). In this paper I shall discuss several implications for management as a consequence of the perceived shift from mode 1 to mode 2 knowledge production. Mode 2 as mentioned previously is carried out in the context of application and therefore it could be said to have a greater relevance to the world than mode 1. Mode 2 knowledge is therefore, “a result of a broader range of considerations” (Gibbons et al. 1994 p.4). As a result “such knowledge is intended to be useful to someone whether in industry or government, or society more generally” (Gibbons et al. 1994 p.4), it is no longer concentrated. “Most negotiations and agreements now comprise many more actors, decision making is less reliant on the leadership of government and institutions generally. Individuals are more prepared to take risks… to collaborate with many different individuals and organisations” (Gibbons 2000). Knowledge is always formed under an aspect of incessant negotiation and it will not be created until the interests of the actors are included (Gibbons et al. 1994) therefore it could be said that mode 2 knowledge is more relevant in product development as more opinions are taken into account. In mode 2 more than scientific and technical experience is involved other social and personal perspectives are an influence; thus producing context sensitive knowledge (Gibbons 2000). That fact mode 2 knowledge is transdisciplinary also poses implications for management. Such transdisciplinary knowledge unites various people, it emphasises the need for engagement, investigation, and participation in addressing contemporary issues and problems in a manner that explicitly destabilises disciplinary boundaries. The management of a distributed knowledge production must be open-ended; the traditional approach is too inflexible, the management of mode 2 knowledge production must break away from classical planning perspectives (Gibbons et al. 1994). There should be an increase in the permeability of boundaries (Gibbons et al. 1994). Such increase in the...
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