Knowing That and Knowing How: Towards Embodied Strategy

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This paper explores two different forms of knowledge. We compare embodied understanding with propositional or abstract knowledge. Ethnographic research, with its commitment to understanding through immersion and engagement in social fields produces dexterous, intuitive and practical cultural knowledge, which is highly suited towards culturally attuned activity. We argue that ethnography can often be reduced to propositional knowledge as a result of the lack of team participation in research and how we communicate insight. Ideas of professional expertise sit behind the division of labour that characterises client-researcher relationships. Accompanying that division of labour is a need for the communication of ethnographic research to bridge the gap between client and external worlds – the world we as researchers explore and that our clients needs to act in. By engaging our clients in shared, immersive experiences we can create the conditions for them to develop ‘know how’ about relevant social fields. The shared nature of this understanding forms the basis for the development of ‘embodied strategy’ – collective action based on shared, deep, first-hand understanding of a world.

  7 comments for “Knowing That and Knowing How: Towards Embodied Strategy

  1. January 12, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    […] The paper lays out the theoretical foundations of this new methodology. You can read it in full here. […]

  2. December 21, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    […] fact, we should be actively leveraging the power of instinct and intuition. As we argue in our EPIC2015 paper, ethnographic practice has often excluded its sponsors or recipients from the research experience. […]

  3. December 21, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    […] fact, we should be actively leveraging the power of instinct and intuition. As we argue in our EPIC2015 paper, ethnographic practice has often excluded its sponsors or recipients from the research experience. […]

  4. May 12, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    […] Simon Roberts and Tom Hoy, extracting themselves and some clients from a tent at a campground in Southern California, asserted that we produce too much information from fieldwork that’s not actually suited to the way organizations innovate. They reminded us that our obligation goes beyond insights and ideas, and we need to connect with the people and teams in a position to act—and help them act. ken anderson and colleagues urged us to go after ‘dynamics’, not ‘insights’: to create transformative innovation, ethnographers must understand shifting webs of significance as well as translate research and catalyze opportunities. Hiroshi Tamura and colleagues’ Innovation Studio Fukuoka, ethnographic research initiated a sense of co-ownership that had concrete effects on the success of entrepreneurial teams. […]

  5. June 16, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    […] Knowing That and Knowing How: Towards Embodied Strategy (free article, sign-in required) […]

  6. September 13, 2017 at 4:00 am

    […] with the Gut: The Case for Combining Instinct and Data, Simon Roberts Knowing That and Knowing How: Towards Embodied Strategy, Simon Roberts & Tom […]

  7. December 14, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    […] Knowing That and Knowing How: Towards Embodied Strategy, Simon Roberts & Tom Hoy […]

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