Relationships among Knowledge Creation, Diffusion and Utilisation in the CRC Process

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Chalip, Laurence

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Fulop, Liz

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Tourism has come to be recognised as a major contributor to national economies. In a knowledge-based economy (that emphasises the benefits of industry/government and academic research), a strong research base must underpin management of a tourist destination if it is to realise its full potential. The establishment of collaborative networks between industry, academia, and government in the strategic planning and management of cities and towns is becoming increasingly popular. However, the way in which the processes underlying these settings facilitate or inhibit eventual outcomes is poorly understood. If knowledge is to drive innovation and economic growth optimally, it is important not just to develop an understanding of the processes underlying the creation, diffusion and utilisation of knowledge in cooperative research settings, but also the relationships among them. Accordingly, the aim of this investigation is to examine the relationships among knowledge creation, diffusion and utilisation occurring in the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program, specifically, the Gold Coast Visioning Project, with a view to identifying the most efficient means for formulating and disseminating research designed for industry and/or government application. Knowledge is defined as information that is imbued with meaning or relevance. However, this definition says little of the ways that individuals, groups and organisations acquire knowledge. While cognitive psychologists have produced several theories suggesting the structure and mechanisms of individual cognitive processes underlying the acquisition and use of knowledge, social scientists have sought to describe and explain the process by investigating the influence of social factors.
Recent contributions to group learning have examined group composition, group size, familiarity among group members, and communication processes in an attempt to understand the ways in which groups acquire knowledge. Research shows that knowledge utilisation in organisations results from the interdependent influences of organisational processes and the control opportunities and control problems that arise through organisational structure. These frameworks provide accounts of how knowledge is utilised within an organisation, but not of how organisations learn. Recent research suggests that organisations learn through knowledge networks where organisational focus moves from the consideration and protection of boundaries to the management of (and care for) relationships. Therefore, organisations contain static (rules, norms and procedures) and dynamic (social relationships) elements that mutually influence the degree to which organisations learn. A synthesis of the available literature resulted in the development of a series of models that served not only to inform, but also be informed by the analysis of this investigation. A single case study, namely the Gold Coast Visioning Project, was used to examine the ways in which knowledge was created, disseminated and utilised in a CRC setting. This ethnographic investigation considered the process of knowledge creation through to utilisation at individual, group, organisational, and inter-organisational levels, while simultaneously examining the interrelated influences of social, cognitive, affective and communication factors. Throughout the project, data were collected through stakeholder interviews, various documents and participant observation of stakeholder meetings and workshops. Data were analysed using a grounded theory approach and methods of thick description.
The results show that researchers and industry stakeholders bring different frames of reference, different expectations, and different knowledge bases to the exercise. This inhibited communication, and gave the appearance of dissension when, in fact, what was being sought was a common frame for understanding and communication. Additionally, the gap between industry and researcher worldviews generated the sense that industry was resisting or failing to understand what the research was seeking to achieve. Consequently, in order to manage the relationship, research plans and findings were communicated to industry in a teacher-to-student fashion, which fostered single-loop learning, and reduced industry stakeholders' sense of ownership in the process and findings. During the project, industry stakeholders frequently sought to have research come pre-packaged with "meaning", but researchers lacked the contextual knowledge necessary to specify the relevance of their research. The results also show that research findings need to be integrated and diffused to industry over time, and specific applications need to be formulated (and reformulated) in response to particular and changing needs of industry.
As a result of this investigation, a model of 'best practice' has been developed with detailed recommendations for the design, implementation, and reporting of CRC-sponsored research to optimise its utility for end-users of such research. From a theoretical perspective, the findings of this study challenge the ways that current theories account for the ways in which knowledge is acquired and utilised since the results show that knowledge is constructed both socially and emotionally. Any investigation that seeks to understand how knowledge is acquired and utilised must consider social and affective influences. To ignore the role of emotion and values in the process of knowledge acquisition is to ignore a key component of an individual's reasoning capacity.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Marketing and Management

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Cooperative Research Centre

Cooperative Research Centres



knowledge acquisition

knowledge utilisation







Gold Coast Visioning Project

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