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The micro-system perspective on organizations

The micro-system perspective on organizations

In this article we described the driving forces behind the knowledge economy and the increasing relative importance of intangibles such as knowledge and intellectual resources, the need for innovation, and the means to realize intellectual capabilities. Organizational effectiveness has become more dependent of what could be called knowledge management. In early studies of this development, the issues of knowledge management were largely identified as how to capture and redistribute knowledge with the help of new information technology. Following that, focus turned to other aspects of managing organizational knowledge, such as processes, special forums, training programs, mentoring, and so forth, but still with the tools and thinking of the industrial society. Most of the research on knowledge management, however, avoided addressing a central phenomenon in knowledge integration and organizational coordination, namely the professional work groups and micro- systems1. Studies show that the proportion of coordination in organizations, in the form of more or less independent work groups, increases in general and especially in so-called cross-functional teams . Both governmental agencies and private industry are increasingly relying upon work teams as a preferred performance arrangement to fulfill their visions, execute their complex missions, and accomplish their goals. This development is characterized by the traditional line hierarchies having to pass mandates over to work teams, since the knowledge needed to make decisions is distributed across a number of specialist individuals. Sweden, may in fact, be one of the countries where this development has progressed the furthest.

1 Micro-systems can be described as collaboration, at a specific time, between a given set of individuals. These micro-systems are sometimes identifiable as teams, such as a management team, but often occur in more temporary constellations, such as a temporary or spontaneous coordination meetings between colleagues. They are occasions where individuals, as knowledge carriers, must integrate their knowledge for an organizational purpose, either within or between organizations.


Philip Runsten


PhD, Stockholm School of Economics

Senior Consultant, Founder

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Stockholm School of Economics

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