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Abstract

The modern enterprise depends upon timely and effective flows of knowledge through its organizations for success. But knowledge is not evenly distributed through the enterprise, and a dearth of information systems is available to enable such timely and effective flows. Further, the few theoretical knowledge-flow models available have not yet been developed to a point where they can effectively inform the design of information systems and business processes to support knowledge flow in the enterprise. A survey of current practice shows that such system and process design is accomplished principally by trial and error, one of the least effective approaches known. The research described in this article builds upon and extends current theory about knowledge flow. It focuses in particular on investigating flow dynamics to inform the design of information systems and business processes to enhance the flow of knowledge through the enterprise. Leveraging the good understanding of flows in other domains, we strive to extend theory that can lead to "devices" of considerable utility in the enterprise knowledge domain. The result is a four-dimensional, dynamic model that can be used to classify and visualize a diversity of knowledge-flow patterns through the enterprise. These patterns can, in turn, be analyzed to inform the design of useful information systems and business processes. The implications of this dynamic model are explored and a number of hypotheses are generated to motivate and guide future research into the phenomenology of knowledge flow.

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