12th GEM&L International Workshop on Management & Language: Call for Papers

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Paris, 22-23 May 2018
 The impact of language on knowledge creating and sharing

 Knowledge acquisition and transfer are vital to companies’ strategic development but they require an ability to collaborate successfully across professional, cultural and linguistic boundaries. Given its role in facilitating the flow of meaning, language has been called “the lubricant of the transfer of knowledge, values and experience from one source of common knowledge to others” (Holden, 2002). However, language issues occupy a relatively small place in knowledge management (KM) research. The link between language and cross-boundary knowledge transfer needs to be further articulated and explored.

The interconnection between knowledge and language in fields such as organizational and international business studies (OS/IB) can be seen in the paradigmatic shift from a mechanical vision of meaning-making to one that sees meaning as co-produced in interaction with others and embedded in the context (Bakhtin, 1981; Hislop, 2013). There is a growing body of research on the emergence of negotiated language practices which have been shown to enhance productive knowledge-sharing in ways that lingua franca practices cannot (Janssens et al, 2004; Steyaert et al., 2011 and Logemann and Piekkari, 2015). This work is consistent with knowledge management (KM) research which refers to knowledge as “knowing” to emphasize its dynamic, evolutive nature (Paraponaris and Sigal, 2015; Tsoukas, 2009). Both KM and language-sensitive researchers are seeking to better understand how tacit or socially-embedded knowledge can be communicated between heterogeneous groups (Collins, 2007; Nonaka, 1994). Knowledge sharing is dependent on dialogical relations (Bakhtin, 1981; Tsoukas, 2009), but dialogical exchanges are threatened when people do not speak the same language.

The role of language as a tool in the mediating of meaning has been explored in OS literature (Engeström and Sannino, 2010; Lorino, 2014). Studies on boundary objects have yielded important insights into the way semi-universal, semi-localized objects such as maps, visual aids and symbols can help heterogeneous groups understand each other (Carlile, 2002).

Next, language-sensitive researchers can contribute to a deeper understanding of the link between knowledge sharing, social identity and trust (Barner-Rasmussen et al., 2007; 2011). Scholars are also reexamining the direction of the flow of knowledge across boundaries, as demonstrated by Peltokorpi and Yamao’s (2017) study on reverse knowledge transfer between local subunits and company headquarters.

We also need to better understand the social processes at play in the formation of language clusters, language communities, knowledge clusters, knowledge boundaries and communities of practice.

We welcome empirical, methodological and conceptual papers which aim at breaking new ground, and in particular, papers which examine the way language impacts knowledge sharing and creation across boundaries.

For any information concerning the conference, please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.