RELATIONAL ARCHETYPES, ORGANIZATIONAL LEARNING, AND VALUE CREATION: EXTENDING THE HUMAN RESOURCE ARCHITECTURE
SUNG-CHOON KANG Korea University Business School SHAD S. MORRIS SKK Graduate School of Business SCOTT A. SNELL Cornell University
Theories of knowledge-based competition emphasize the firm’s ability both to explore and toexploit knowledge as the source of value creation. We attempt to bring human resource management directly into this forum by introducing a framework of relational archetypes—entrepreneurial and cooperative—that are derived from unique configurations of three dimensions (structural, affective, and cognitive) of social relations within and across firm boundaries. We identify how human resourceconfigurations can be linked to the strategic management of these relational archetypes.
As theories of strategic management have shifted toward resource- and knowledge-based views of the firm, researchers have increasingly looked inward for sources of competitive advantage and value creation. Arguably, the most distinctive and inimitable resource available to firms is knowledge that enables them toeffectively employ, manipulate, and transform various organizational resources (Grant, 1996; Kogut & Zander, 1992; Nonaka, 1991). While organizational knowledge is embedded in a variety of entities, such as tools, tasks, technologies, and people, people-embodied knowledge is the foundation of a firm’s core capabilities and is fundamental to the development of its value proposition (Argote & Ingram,2000). In this regard, human resource management (HRM) has become inextricably tied to the larger context of strategic management (cf. Barney & Wright, 1998; Boxall, 1996). In the context of strategic action, Dierickx and Cool (1989) note that a firm’s accumulated skills, expertise, and wisdom can be viewed as knowledge stocks. In contrast, the streams of new
The authors are very grateful toDavid Lepak and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and recommendations. 236
knowledge that are obtained, transferred, and integrated to enrich and change a firm’s knowledge stocks can be viewed as knowledge flows. Knowledge flows include exchanging new knowledge across organizational boundaries, as well as transferring underutilized yet potentially valuable knowledge withinorganizational boundaries (Argote & Ingram, 2000). While knowledge stocks provide the foundation for a firm’s core competencies (Grant, 1996), knowledge flows are necessary for facilitating organizational learning by enabling a firm to expand, refine, and modify its knowledge stocks, thereby creating the firm’s dynamic capabilities (Teece, Pisano, & Shuen, 1997). This distinction can be importantbecause, as Leonard-Barton (1995) has pointed out, without continual knowledge flows to enhance and renew their strategic value, knowledge stocks can sometimes cause core rigidity. This implies that while managing current knowledge stocks may be important for HRM, managing knowledge flows may be equally if not more important. However, current HR research, drawing on the resource-based view (RBV) ofthe firm, tends to focus on managing knowledge stocks as sources of value creation. For example, Lepak and Snell (1999, 2002) have established a framework (re-
Kang, Morris, and Snell
ferred to as the HR architecture) that highlights how value creation and the strategic positioning of firms are derived from managing different knowledge stocks found in various employee groupsboth within and across firm boundaries. Their perspective helps to integrate these differences in knowledge and to create an overall picture of how a firm’s portfolio of knowledge stocks is managed. However, they note that further work is needed to understand how different knowledge stocks might work together and be coordinated to balance the complexity and dynamics of the entire HR architecture....