Learning across business sectors: context, embeddedness and conceptual chasms
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While the construction industry is frequently encouraged to learn from other business sectors, the difficulties of transferring knowledge from one context to another are rarely acknowledged. The problematic nature of knowledge is addressed with particular emphasis on the concept of contextual embeddedness. From this point of view, the process of 'knowledge transfer' depends upon a prolonged process of socialization between actors from both the 'receiving' and 'sending' contexts networking. It is contended that a significant conceptual chasm exists between the exhortations of industry leaders to learn from other sectors and the theoretical complexities associated with knowledge transfer. An ongoing research project is described that seeks to facilitate knowledge sharing between construction and aerospace. A novel approach to knowledge sharing based upon soft systems methodology (SSM) (Mode 2) is described and justified. Initial findings from the first cycle of the research are discussed and used to highlight the importance of context in the implementation of supply chain management.