When High Touch Meets Low Tech: Knowledge Management in a Small Enterprise

Gloria H. W. Liu, Eric T. G. Wang

Abstract


In this article, we propose an analytical framework for investigating how control of knowledge and
knowledge workers is achieved in a translation agency. The organizational size and an
organizational logic of self-management were found to drive control mechanisms into a
minimalist style of joint management. On the one hand, the translators managed themselves
through (a) the buy-in of an open and sharing culture and a new psychological contract, (b)
information from the appraisal results, and (c) conversation and communication with other
experts. On the other hand, the managers manage by employing (a) a strategy centered on the
dictionary and directory elements of an open and sharing culture, (b) minimalist interventions to
induce and structure spontaneous communication, and (c) freelancers to complement expertise
within organizational boundaries. Our analysis establishes a prototype for managing
individualistic knowledge work in small organizations. Implications of these findings include a
configurational approach to KM research, a shift from the concern of rent appropriation to that of
rent sharing, and viewing organizations as the context covered with communication channels
that craft, groom and enable communication, conversation and mutual learning.

Keywords


Knowledge Management; Knowledge Workers; Organizational Culture; Psychological Contract; Translation Industry

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Liu, G. H. W., Wang, E. T. G. (2009). " When High Touch Meets Low Tech: Knowledge Management in a Small Enterprise "Pacific Asia Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 1(2), pp.20-37.