Knowledge Management Research & Practice

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 3–12

Reproducing knowledge: Xerox and the story of knowledge management


DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.kmrp.8500118

Cite this article as:
Cox, A. Knowl Manage Res Pract (2007) 5: 3. doi:10.1057/palgrave.kmrp.8500118


This paper is a commentary on discursive transformations that occur in stories told about Xerox's photocopier technicians, comparing particularly Orr's brilliant ethnographic study and a later management case study. It argues that significant shifts take place in how knowledge is understood between these accounts so that what begins as elusive, oral, improvised and social becomes increasingly presented as encodable in a structured database, countable, auditable, individualistic. These ideological transformations seem much to do with Xerox's own historic need to rebrand itself, and simply to sell a commercial product. Thus, how knowledge is represented and what knowledge management might mean seems to be heavily influenced by corporate vested interests. The paper stresses the need to capture complexity in case studies if they are to promote a realistic or critical understanding of the organisation.


xeroxcase studies

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Knowledge and Information Management Research Group, Department of Information Studies, University of SheffieldSheffieldU.K.