Implications for Management Essay Sample

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Critically analyse some of the implications for management of the perceived shift from mode  knowledge production to mode 2. Knowledge may well be defined as “facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education” (Oxford English Dictionary 2006). Gibbons et al. (1994) introduced the concept of mode 1 and mode 2 knowledge production, the aim of introducing the two modes, “essentially heuristic in that they clarify the similarities and differences between the attributes of each and help us understand and explain trends that can be observed in all modern societies” (Gibbons et al. 1994, p.1). Mode 1 could be described as the dominant, traditional mode of knowledge production; it is knowledge generated within a specific disciplinary, cognitive, and primarily academic context, whilst mode 2 embodies, “knowledge generated outside academic institutions in broader, transdisciplinary social and economic contexts” (Baber 1995). Undoubtedly mode 2 has ever more increasing prominence; he claims “while mode 2 may not be replacing mode 1, mode 2 is different from mode 1 in nearly every respect” (Gibbons et al. 1994, Vii). Mode 2 knowledge is carried out in a context of application, in contrast to mode 1 where problems are set and solved in a context governed by academic interests of a particular community.

Mode 2 is trans-disciplinary, whereas mode 1 is disciplinary, Mode 2 is characterised by heterogeneity, mode 1 by homogeneity. Organisationally mode 2 is heterarchical and transients opposed to the more traditional; mode 1 which is hierarchical and tends to preserve its form. Each mode employs a different type of quality control; mode 2 could be said to be more socially accountable and reflexive (Gibbons et al. 1994). “Mode 2 is a response to the needs of both science and society. It is irreversible. The problem is how to understand and manage it.” (Gibbons et al. 1994, p.11). In this paper I shall discuss several implications for management as a consequence of the perceived shift from mode 1 to mode 2 knowledge production. Mode 2 as mentioned previously is carried out in the context of application and therefore it could be said to have a greater relevance to the world than mode 1. Mode 2 knowledge is therefore, “a result of a broader range of considerations” (Gibbons et al. 1994 p.4). As a result “such knowledge is intended to be useful to someone whether in industry or government, or society more generally” (Gibbons et al. 1994 p.4), it is no longer concentrated.

“Most negotiations and agreements now comprise many more actors, decision making is less reliant on the leadership of government and institutions generally. Individuals are more prepared to take risks… to collaborate with many different individuals and organisations” (Gibbons 2000). Knowledge is always formed under an aspect of incessant negotiation and it will not be created until the interests of the actors are included (Gibbons et al. 1994) therefore it could be said that mode 2 knowledge is more relevant in product development as more opinions are taken into account. In mode 2 more than scientific and technical experience is involved other social and personal perspectives are an influence; thus producing context sensitive knowledge (Gibbons 2000).

That fact mode 2 knowledge is transdisciplinary also poses implications for management. Such transdisciplinary knowledge unites various people, it emphasises the need for engagement, investigation, and participation in addressing contemporary issues and problems in a manner that explicitly destabilises disciplinary boundaries. The management of a distributed knowledge production must be open-ended; the traditional approach is too inflexible, the management of mode 2 knowledge production must break away from classical planning perspectives (Gibbons et al. 1994). There should be an increase in the permeability of boundaries (Gibbons et al. 1994). Such increase in the permeability of boundaries weakens the centralising tendency of bureaucracy; therefore companies may wish to incorporated incentives in order to encourage co-operation between employees. National institutions need to be decentralised in order to be made more permeable; the Government can promote such change. Such unity between people can be encouraged through workplace design; therefore it is important that such design and décor of workplaces are taken into account by management in an attempt to create environments that embolden employees to unite and exchange information and ideas.

Whilst ever more, “play at work” is being utilised by companies in an attempt to increase creativity; in turn hopefully increasing productivity. Innocent smoothies have, “Friday beers” every Friday where somebody comes around with a drinks trolley or they meet at the pub, furthermore there workplace design incorporates elements in attempt to make the employees socialise with each other such as a table football (Innocent 2012). Such elements can assist in bringing employees from different departments together; consequently this engagement can lead to an increase in enthusiasm from the employees and thus perhaps make work more appealing to them. What’s more mode 2 is heterogeneous in terms of the skills and experience people bring to it therefore it requires transient diverse teams whose members come and go as the situation organically unfolds. Teamwork can increase engagement and motivation within an organisation, assist in decision making and increase in the sharing of information, however sometimes individuals may work better individually on a certain task and social-loafing may occur (Boddy 2008).

In mode 2 the composition of problem solving team changes over time as requirements evolve ;“though problems may be static and groups short lived, the organisation and the communication pattern persists as a matrix from which further groups and networks, dedicated to different problems will be formed” (Gibbons et al 1994 p.6). Mode 2 knowledge production is marked by a proliferation in the number of sites knowledge is formed, evermore interaction between traditional sites of knowledge production such as universities and non-traditional sites for example government institutions. Therefore knowledge as mentioned previously is created in the context of application; taking into account numerous ideas from a variety of different sites. Such heterogeneity is enabled by technologies that allow teams to flourish beyond the ties of just one institution (Maclean et al. 2002). “Information and communication technologies are increasingly important in knowledge production and knowledge use.

On the one hand, the new communication technologies form additional means of communication between organizations… on the other hand, the new modes of communication occupy the empty space that previously existed between the interpersonal communication of researchers and academic journals” (Heimericks 2003). Increasingly many firms are using video conferencing and web conferencing as a means of interacting with each other; thus this allows them to interact from diverse locations in order to exchange their ideas. Furthermore e-mail and mobile phones further enhance the ease of communication between different parties. “Mode 2 then, is both a cause and a consumer of innovations which enhance the flow and transformation of information” (Gibbons et al. 1994, p.4). Management therefore must embrace the latest technologies in order to enhance knowledge production; evermore academic sources are available via the internet which can assist in the development and production of new ideas. Many “firms and universities are already a long way along the path of change and this is manifested in the types of staff they recruit and in the complex range of collaborative agreements they enter” (Gibbons et al. 1994, p.13). Mode 2 is evidently heterarchical; the system of organisations replete with multiplicity and overlap, mixed dominance and divergent but coexistent patterns of relation.

There is no hierarchy that exists; instead there are many leaders. The implementation of such heterarchical structure could be said to be a challenge for management in comparison to more familiar forms of hierarchies and networks, “It requires a well-designed and coordinated network, ensuring alignment and common connections, largely through performance measures” (Stephenson 2009) “however a shift to a heterarchical structure will create many additional dimensions of flexibility, as information flows become less constrained. As such, heterarchical structures are extraordinarily relevant today” (Dawson 2009). Heterarchies consist of at least three separate hierarchies, however these hierarchies must collaborate with each other in order to achieve a collective good more composite than what any one hierarchy could achieve on its own (Stephenson 2009). Such structure “permits the legitimate valuation of multiple skills, types of knowledge, or working styles without privileging one over the other” (Stephenson 2009).

It is apparent that heterarchies are complex; however they can link together people and institutions in order to solve a complex task. Evidentially the quality control for mode 2 differs to that of its counterpart; mode 1 in that it is more socially accountable and reflexive. “Mode 2 quality controls have to reflect the concerns of a substantially broader community of interest” (Maclean et al. 2002). In recent years there has no doubt been an increase in public concern surrounding issues such as health care, the environment and privacy; consequently this has affected the growth of mode 2 knowledge production (Gibbons et al. 1994). It is therefore important that all stakeholders’ interests are taken into consideration when making decisions. Evermore companies understand the importance of listening to their customer’s opinions on ideas such as product development and corporate social responsibility. To properly fulfil customer needs businesses may want to consider involving the customers in creating the offering and perhaps in turn increase the customer loyalty. Walker’s crisps are a paramount example of incorporating the customer into such decisions; there, “Do us a flavour” campaign back in 2008 challenged members of the public to think up a new unique flavour of crisps.

The campaign was incredibly successful; “1.2 million flavour entries were received and over 1 million votes eventually cast… with 1 in 5 households trying one of the finalist flavours” (RAMSAY 2009). Whilst it is plausible that probable compromises introduced as a means of satisfying a comprehensive range of stakeholders with dissimilar interests might undermine the standard of work; Gibbons et al. (1994) points out however it does not follow that because, “a wider range of expertise is brought to bear on a problem that it will necessarily be of lower quality. It is of a more composite, multidimensional kind”. In parallel with vast expansion of the supply of knowledge from universities and other sites has been the expansion for the demand of specialist knowledge; such demand for specialist knowledge has been driven by an intensification of international competition in business and industry(Gibbons 2000).

Such competition has provoked the segmentation of traditional markets and accelerated the search for niche markets, however “Niche markets have begun to disappear, and some economists are warning that the only safe haven is pre-eminence in technological innovation” (Thurow 1992 cited in Gibbons et al. 1994, p.94). Specialist knowledge is often a key factor in determining a company’s competitive advantage, innovation is key to success. “On the supply side, specialist training acquired by conventional means may be necessary but it is no longer sufficient” (Gibbons 1994, p.63) for when knowledge production is undertaken in diverse contexts of application new skills in configuring knowledge resources, problem identification and viable solutions become crucial (Gibbons 1994). New types of knowledge production can, as they diffuse, “make for ambiguous situations as older demarcation lines and boundaries become more porous or break down together” (Gibbons et al. 1994 p.37).

For instance institutions of higher education can implement values from the corporate culture of industry; bringing to light a completely new type of academic entrepreneur, whilst big firms may choose to adopt some of the norms of academia for example they may provide their employees sabbaticals (Gibbons et al. 1994). Despite mode 1 and mode 2 being distinct modes of production, they cooperate with one another (Gibbons et al. 1994): Specialists trained in the disciplinary sciences may well enter mode 2 knowledge production. There has recently been talk of a Mode 3 knowledge production this, “is a mode of knowledge production whose distinctive characteristic is a commitment to be at the service of mankind” (Jimenez 2008, p.48) ; sharing some of the characteristics of mode 2 knowledge production, but with the distinguishing characteristic of being closely aligned to societal needs (Jimenez 2008). However Gibbons et al (1994) never sought to catalogue types of knowledge instead, “introducing the two modes is essentially heuristic in that they clarify the similarities and differences between the attributes of each” (Gibbons et al. 1994, p.1).

Evidentially there has been a transformation in the mode of knowledge production in recent years, however it is important to again note that whilst, “mode 2 may not be replacing mode 1, mode 2 is different from mode 1 in nearly every respect” (Gibbons et al. 1994, Vii). The fact this new mode of knowledge production is carried out in the context of application makes it more pertinent to real life. Mode 2 in being transdisciplinary unites various people, emphasising the need for communication; thus there must be an increase in the permeability of boundaries; therefore management should take into consideration workplace design and, “play at work” in order to facilitate such communication. Heterogeneity further characterises mode 2 knowledge production; managers must take into consideration the bearing of new innovative technology in facilitating teams to flourish beyond the ties of a single institution.

The heterarchical nature of mode 2 knowledge production may be hard for management to implement in organisations; however if executed correctly it can link together people and institutions in order to solve a complex task. Undoubtedly social accountability is evermore a concern in society; mode 2 certainly recognises this over its counterpart mode 1, knowledge production in mode 2 reflects a substantially broader range of interests than mode 1. Not only has there been an expansion in the supply of specialist knowledge in recent years; demand has also increased due to increased international competition in business. Recently a further form of knowledge production; “mode 3” has been put forward in attempt to greater be aligned with societal needs, however Gibbons et al (1994) never sought to catalogue types of knowledge. Essentially management must understand that mode knowledge differs from that of its counterparts in many respects; however if managed cautiously it can bring many benefits to existence.


BABER, Z. (1995) Review of the New Production of Knowledge [WWW], Contemporary Sociology, 24(6), Nov 1995, available from: [Accessed 20 February 2012]. BODDY, D. (2008) Management An Introduction, 4th ed. Harlow, Financial Times/ Prentice Hall. COLLINS, H. (2010) Tacit and Explicit Knowledge, London: University of Chicago Press DAWSON, R. (2009) An Argument for Heterarchy: creating more effective organizational structures [WWW], Trends in the Living Networks, available from [accessed 12th March 2012] RAMSAY, F. (2009) Gary Lineker fronts ‘Do us a flavour’ video channel on Yahoo [WWW] Marketing Magazine, 26th January, available from: [Accessed 12th March 2012] GIBBONS, M., LIMOGES, C., NOWOTNY, H., SCHWARZMAN, S., SCOTT, P. and TROW, M. (1994) The New Production of Knowledge: the Dynamics of Science and Research in Contemporary societies, London: Sage. GIBBONS (2000) Mode 2 society and the emergence of context sensitive science, Science and Public Policy, 27 (3), pp.159-163 HEIMERICKS, G., HöRLESBERGER, M. BESSELAR, P. Mapping communication and collaboration in heterogeneous research networks, Scientometrics, 58 (2), pp.391-413 INNOCENT (2012) What is life like at innocent? [WWW], Innocent, available from [accessed 13th March 2012] JIMENEZ (2008) Research Socially Responsible: May we speak of a mode 3 knowledge production? Electronic Journal of Communication Information and Innovation in Health, 2, pp.48-56. MACLEAN, D., MACINTOSH, R. and GRANT, S. (2002) Mode 2 Management Research, British Journal of Management, 13, pp.189-207 OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY (2006) Vol. 6, Oxford: Oxford University Press. STEPHENSON, K. (2009) Neither Hierarchy nor Network: An Argument for Heterarchy, Organizational Behavior, 12, pp. 295-336.

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