In the Search for Knowledge: How Subsidiary Middle Managers Locate Distributed Knowledge

Esther Tippmann, Dublin Institute of Technology
Pamela Sharkey Scott, Dublin Institute of Technology

Document Type Conference Paper

Tippmann and Sharkey-Scott (2009), In the search for knowledge: How subsidiary middle managers locate distributed knowledge, Paper presented at the 12th Annual Conference of the Irish Academy of Management in Galway, Ireland - Sep 2009


This qualitative study examines in-depth how middle managers search for distributed knowledge to resolve non-routine problems. Drawing on the micro-practice perspective, we explicate the detailed micro activities that constitute these knowledge search processes. We find that middle managers in a self-motivated manner actively search organization wide knowledge resources that are geographically close and, more importantly, also geographically distant. Middle managers’ search is effective to the extent that they locate relevant knowledge which is used to develop solutions for the specific non-routine problem. We conclude that in order to remain agile in dynamic environments and augment organizational learning, top management needs to recognize and nurture middle managers’ practices in integrating dispersed knowledge.