EM Strasbourg Business School Launches a Knowledge Management Chair
Publié le November 22, 2013, Mis à jour le June 10, 2014
« The profound managerial changes brought about by the knowledge economy are on par with those of post-war Taylorism. » This is an observation made by Jean-Philippe Bootz, who has just been entrusted by EM Strasbourg Business School Dean Isabelle Barth with giving a new direction to the chair previously dedicated to innovation management. The fledgling Knowledge Management Chair is now gearing up to rise to the challenges of creating and diffusing corporate knowledge assets.
What is the rationale behind the launch of a Knowledge Management Chair in a business school? Jean-Philippe Bootz: Volatile demand, shortened product life cycles or competition through innovation are clearly indicative of the fact that today's companies are operating in a knowledge-based economy. The sweeping managerial changes stemming from the new context have brought to the fore concerns about the creation and diffusion of corporate knowledge assets. As a result, knowledge management practices have expanded massively across organisations. Concomitantly, over the last ten years knowledge management has become a research area in its own right: more than thirty-odd specialised periodicals have been referenced worldwide, and a French-speaking scientific community focusing on the theme of Knowledge Management, Society and Organisations (AGECSO) has been gathering momentum since 2007. It thus seemed timely to create a chair on this research area. Where EM Strasbourg Business School stands out is that the main focus is now on knowledge management and no longer solely on innovation, as most chairs in this area are wont to do.
Is there a minor or a fundamental difference between Innovation Management and Knowledge Management? Jean-Philippe Bootz: The two approaches are closely related insofar as knowledge lies at the core of innovation. For example, the two trends are intermingled in the studies that focus on what organisational structures can best generate and disseminate knowledge or on how to optimally structure knowledge-intensive projects. However, Knowledge Management can also be tackled from a more adaptive perspective in terms of risk management through feedback analysis, with a view to avoiding loss of strategic knowledge in change contexts (massive retirements, restructuring, mergers, etc.). What also makes this approach different is the fact that it cuts across disciplines, from computer and cognitive sciences to economics, management or sociology. Given that the chair is attached to a management school, the studies undertaken within its jurisdiction will be focused on management while at the same time benefiting from a cross-disciplinary approach and a great variety of tacks.
Who do you intend to partner with? Jean-Philippe Bootz: Concerning our institutional partners, we wish to maintain the collaborative partnerships entered by the former Innovation Management Chair, namely the active support provided by EDF and Électricité de Strasbourg as well as from the Strasbourg CCI's corporate networks, Alsace Innovation and EM Strasbourg Partenaires. As for the research dimension, the new chair will work in close collaboration with the AGECSO scientific community of fifty-odd researchers. Additional partnership agreements are underway with the Knowledge Management Club chaired by Jean-Louis Ermine as well as with the Extreme Management Situation Chair which has recently been launched by Pascal Lièvre in Clermont-Ferrand (Clermont-Ferrand Research Center in Management, CRCGM).
What topics have you so far investigated? Jean-Philippe Bootz: My research work involved analysing the cognitive dimensions of prospective approaches. This specifically allowed me to point out that some approaches (both participative and strategic) may be considered as powerful tools for managing knowledge. More recently, my research area has encompassed the now-emerging managed communities of practice, specifically the way management can reconcile self-organisation with the management effort entailed by such structures. Since 2009, I have also been conducting research on the concept of experts, in particular on how to define them, how corporations can manage them and resort to them when running disruptive innovation projects.