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The Post Nonaka Concept of Ba: eclectic roots, evolutionary paths and future advancements

Rivadávia Alvarenga Neto and Chun Wei Choo

(Submission #104)


This paper investigates and analyses the concept of ba – or enabling context

- in the fields of information science, information systems and management/business literature in order to understand its conceptual evolution, discussions, applications and expansion since its introduction in 1998 by Nonaka et al. The qualitative methodology is bibliographic and comprises – among others - the methods of citation analysis and content analysis. A resulting selection of 135 papers, 4 dissertations/theses and 4 books constituted the research‟s final database. Data analysis consisted of three flows of activities: data reduction, data displays (in the forms of both conceptual and mind maps) and conclusion drawing/verification. The results point out to the identification of four major groups of enabling conditions – social/behavioral, cognitive/epistemic, informational and business/managerial - which can be singly or freely combined into different knowledge processes – creation, sharing/transfer and use – occurring in different levels of interactions – individual, group, organizational and inter-organizational. Based on these results, a decision cube is proposed in the form of a framework for designing enabling contexts in knowledge organizations. The conclusions suggest that the concept of ba and its underlying concepts are indeed sine qua non conditions for organizational knowledge creation and innovation processes, though ba is still both theoretically and empirically under-explored. Organizations interested in pursuing knowledge management (KM), innovation and ba may wish to be guided by the enabling conditions presented in this paper.


Program Track:  Track 4 - Information and Knowledge Management
Submission Type:  Research Paper

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