The Applicability of the Seci Model to Multiorganisational Endeavours: an Integrative Review

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ABSTRACT This paper outlines an investigation of the literature on organisational learning within inter-organisational project-based alliances, with a focus on the systemic processes of knowledge sharing, externalisation and internalisation inherent in the SECI model as proposed by Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995). The SECI model proposes a process by which organisations spiral their knowledge within and outside their organisations, with the aim of refining and adding value to the stock of knowledge that exists in the organisation. The novel contribution of this paper is the application of the SECI model to multiorganisational projects. It has often been noted that while there is a rich literature on project management and, to a lesser extent, project-based firms, literature on how project-based knowledge is collected and re-utilised by participant firms is less common (Gann & Salter 1998, Prencipe & Tell 2001). This paper looks to address this paucity of research by applying the intuitively attractive SECI model to knowledge accumulation and learning processes in multi-organisational projects. Key words: SECI Model, project based knowledge management, alliances, multiorganisational endeavours. INTRODUCTION Ikujurio Nonaka, with his various co-authors Hirotaka Takeuchi, Georg von Krogh and others, created a dynamic model to illustrate organisational knowledge creation in a series of books and articles that began appearing in the early 1990s. The SECI model (the acronym stands for Socialization, Externalization, Combination, Internalization) was first proposed in 1991 (Nonaka 1991), though was refined and expanded for a broader audience in the popular book The Knowledge Creating Company (Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995). The SECI model met with broad acceptance, especially among management practitioners, due to its intuitive logic and clear delineation of knowledge types between tacit and explicit knowledge—utilising this knowledge delineation first espoused in management theory by Polanyi (1958). The model also embodied an interaction dynamic by which knowledge is transferred in a spiral process, allowing the knowledge value to be enhanced through exchange between individuals and groups within the organisation. The core behavioural assumption in the model is that knowledge creating companies continually encourage the flow of knowledge between individuals and staff groups to improve both tacit and explicit knowledge stocks. The critical knowledge management assumption of the SECI process is that knowledge is created and improved as it flows through different John Rice (email: is a Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management; Management; School of Business and Government, University of Canberra, Australia; Bridget Rice is also with the School of Business and Government, University of Canberra, Australia. International Journal of Organisational Behaviour, Volume 9 (8), 671-682 © J Rice & B Rice ISSN 1440-5377

Rice & Rice

The Applicability of the SECI Model to Multi-Organisational ndeavours: An Integrative Review

levels of the organisation and between individuals and groups. Thus, knowledge value is created through synergies between knowledge holders (both individual and group) within a supportive and developmental organisational context. Figure 1: The Key Elements of the SECI Model

SECI as a self-transcending process selfOriginating Ba
Existential Face-to-face Reflective Peer-to-peer I Externalisation I I G I I



Socialisation Tacit → Tacit Explicit → Tacit

Tacit → Explicit Explicit → Explicit Combination G G O G G

Exercising Ba

Internalisation O G I Collective On the Site

Systemic Collaborative

Adapted from Nonaka, Reinmoeller and Senoo, 2001
In the above diagram, the I, G, and O symbols represent individuals, group and organization aggregates. The...
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