Organization of Knowledge Ecosystems: Prefigurative and Partial Forms

Kati Järvi, Argyro Almpanopoulou, Paavo Ritala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides a unique perspective on knowledge ecosystems by studying their organization. Grounded in empirical evidence, we propose that knowledge ecosystems consist of users and producers of knowledge that are organized around a joint knowledge search. A distinction is drawn between knowledge ecosystems searching for a knowledge domain and those searching within an identified knowledge domain, respectively characterized as prefigurative and partial forms of organizing. In a knowledge ecosystem organized in prefigurative form (to identify a knowledge domain), actors whose participation is affiliated, self-resourced, and unobliged probe that domain to identify and establish shared knowledge as a basis for collective actorhood, with no formal rules or coordination mechanisms. In a knowledge ecosystem organized in partial form (where a knowledge domain has already been identified), actors search and reveal problem- and solution-related knowledge, participating though formal membership and access to resources, and their contributions are monitored. The present study contributes to the literature by 1) specifying the distinct types of joint search performed by knowledge ecosystems; 2) considering how the nature of joint search affects how knowledge ecosystems are organized; and 3) distinguishing two forms of organizing knowledge ecosystems, with a focus on participation and coordination.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalResearch Policy
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1523-1537
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 06.05.2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Collective case study
  • grounded theory
  • knowledge domain
  • knowledge ecosystem
  • organization
  • partial organization


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