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on October 7, 2002
Morten T. Hansen is an assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School; Bolko van Oetinger is a senior vice president with the Boston Consulting Group in their Munich office. This Harvard Business Review-article was published in March 2001.
In this article the authors introduce a new approach to knowledge management, which they term 'T-shaped management'. This T-shaped management requires the new kind of executive to share knowledge across the organization (the horizontal part of the 'T') while remaining committed to individual business performance (the vertical part). So how do you successfully cultivate T-shaped managers and capitalize on the value they can create? The authors' in-depth examinations of British Petroleum's management practices highlighted five specific types of horizontal value that T-shaped managers can generate. Senior executives can find ways to manage this concept through promoting and disciplining horizontal management behaviour. This requires clear incentives, economic transparency, cross-unit interactions, and human portals. There is a complementary sidebar with a typical T-shaped workweek and an example of human portals at work.
I must admit that I am disappointed with this article. It discusses the management and control of knowledge management, but although it includes some interesting suggesstions I have to recommend Morton Hansen's 1999-article 'What is Your Strategy for Managing Knowledge?' over this one. The so-called 'T-shape' also reminds me of matrix management, for which I recommend Sumantra Ghoshal and Christopher Bartlett's article 'Matrix Management'. The authors use simple business US-English.
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