Communication and coalition: rethinking neocapitalist definitions of knowledge management
Developments in the theory of Knowledge Management have occurred in lock step with our understanding of the importance of capital and in particular the intangible elements of social capital of which "knowledge" and its production and reception are normally associated. Further elaboration of the concept of social capital has led to the development of neocapital, which has gained currency within the field of Human Resources for example. However, an examination of the factors that constitute the received definition of "neocapital" suggests that the theory building used to construct it has been in reaction to developments in other disciplines, rather than any fundamental unified theory that underpins these factors. Building on Scandinavian and European research into information systems using perspectives gained from the Organisational Semiotics (OS), Language Action Perspective (LAP), and Action Language Organisations and Information Systems (ALOIS) communities, we demonstrate how the adoption of communication-centric theory can provide a more unified approach to understanding the factors that comprise neocapital especially as it pertains to knowledge management definitions in organisational settings. Rethinking neocapital from a communication-theory perspective enables us to examine the structural, functional and semantic characteristics of community and coalition. We utilise a socio-semantic, contextual and functional model of language that has been gainfully employed within the information systems discipline to research organisations and apply it to theorise community and coalitions and their associated knowledge resources and processes. We focus our discussion on defining and exemplifying one set of communication resources known as the reference system. The reference system comprises the language resources social agents use to introduce and subsequent refer to different kinds of participants in communication (people, places and things) relevant to given situational and cultural contents. By selecting relevant completed acts of communication and analysing them for reference resources we can identify and describe the people, places and things that distinguish social groups and coalitions from one or another. By demonstrating how knowledge about communication enables us to identify communities and coalitions over time, we also demonstrate how communication constitutes knowledge within communities and coalitions.