The third dimension of knowledge is its degree of diffusion. This is a central theme in technology and innovation management where interest in how technology transfer occurs has been the focus of many studies. For our purposes, however, we can think of diffusion as relating to the extent to which knowledge has transferred within a population of potential recipients. The population may be made up of individuals, groups, organisations or even industry sectors. Diffusion can be measured in percentage terms, though care needs to be taken about being clear as to how the relevant population is defined. For example, members of the population for whom knowledge about a continuous improvement methodology is relevant may not all possess either the means or the ability to make use of the knowledge. In this case 100% diffusion is both inappropriate and unlikely.
Using an organisation you are familiar with, or one of your choice, identify an area or type of technological knowledge that has been diffused. Briefly assess how diffusion occurred over time and the extent of the diffusion.
As noted previously, the ‘dimensional’ approach to the classification of types of knowledge is a very useful way of looking at capability, particularly in terms of how capabilities develop and also change in their potential for creating value. For example, we can see that for technological capability we are likely to be interested in all three dimensions. By codifying the knowledge defining a capability, it increases the potential for diffusing the capability to other parts of an organisation or even outside the organisation. Similarly, by abstracting the knowledge, the potential for applying the capability into new areas is also enhanced. Finally, the degree of diffusion will define the potential for gaining value from the capability.