Asserting Property Rights: Knowledge Codification in the Professional Service Firm

Morris, Tim (2001) Asserting Property Rights: Knowledge Codification in the Professional Service Firm. Human Relations, 54 (7). pp. 819-838.


Despite the frequent assertion that knowledge management is an important strategic activity, there have been relatively few empirical studies of the processes involved in this, particularly in knowledge intensive firms. The paradox inherent to codification projects is that they are dependent on professional staff willingly transferring the knowledge that often underpins their status. My purpose in this article is to examine whether and how this paradox is resolved by presenting a case study of a knowledge codification project under- taken by a professional service firm (PSF). I argue that the successful assertion of property rights relates, ironically, to its limitation. Codification takes place in a way that does not nullify the consultants’ expert role in front of the client. That there appear to be limits to how far such a reductive exercise can capture the activities of the consultants has implications for grammatical models that aim to describe and theorize about organizational processes or sequences of actions. I discuss these in the latter part of the article.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: knowledge, professional service firm (PSF), property rights
Subject(s): Professional services
Corporate reputation
Centre: Centre for Professional Firms
Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2011 14:15
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:05

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