Understanding the academic knowledge creation process: How to learn better?

Shows how we can apply academic theories to better understand our own profession

As researchers we are prototypical knowledge workers. Creating meaningful knowledge is the primary mission of our profession. To do this effectively, continuous learning and self-development is required. However, there is little explicit guidance on how to better use our limited resources for capability building.

Our recent AIB Insights article suggests applying concepts and theories from Management studies and International business to our own profession. This allows us to gain a better understanding of the academic capability building and knowledge creation process. You can read and download the article for free by clicking on the link. 

We study ‘researchers’, and it’s us!

In our academic field, we study researchers in R&D units to understand how innovations are created and how productivity of R&D activities can be improved. The way knowledge travels from one organization to another, and the individual learning by organizational members are also key topics of our field. So we thought ‘why not apply management knowledge to our own profession?’.

Given that the purpose of research in R&D units and universities is fundamentally similar, i.e. creating new knowledge for society, we can apply what we know about knowledge creation to ourselves in order to better plan and execute our activities for capability building. When we keep developing our research capabilities, we create a feeling of self-efficacy, which helps us to maintain our motivation and continue to enjoy our knowledge creating activities. 

Insights gained from our JIBS paper on business inpatriates

When working on our paper on knowledge acquisition and knowledge transfer of business inpatriates in an MNC context, we were struck by how perfectly the process mirrored the first author’s recent academic mobility experience.

Thus, in our AIB Insights article, we adapt and modify the theoretical model by Kim, Reiche, & Harzing (2022) to illustrate the short-term and long-term process of academic capability building and knowledge creation. Understanding this process helps us to plan how and where to allocate our limited time and efforts for our growth. We also provide three actionable recommendations for (junior) academics, emphasizing the value of interactive workshops, co-authoring and the journal review process, and purposeful sabbaticals. 

Our paper exemplifies how we can apply academic theories to our own profession. Through a more systematic application of existing theories, we can gain insights not only on how to facilitate academic capability building and knowledge transfer, but also on how to manage academic societies and universities better.

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