Negative knowledge, expertise and organisations

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There has been a particular emphasis on knowledge and competence as increasingly important resources for successful enterprises. This notion of knowledge is based on “positive knowledge” that knowing is merely a constructive, linear and accumulative process. We will introduce the notion of “negative knowledge” that involves “giving up” or “bracketing” knowledge in certain situations. When experts encounter something that is incompatible with their knowledge, they should be sensitive enough to recognise a new situation by suspending their action. In addition to exploring the idea of “unlearning”, the paper introduces three other aspects of negative knowledge: “to know what we do not know”, “to know what not to do” and the value of failures. Negative knowledge seems to be possible, useful, and even necessary in expert organisations since old ways of thinking or knowing something often prevent us to see new potentials.
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Archival date: 2016-08-22
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