The Trouble with ‘Knowledge Transfer’: On Conduit Metaphors and Semantic Pathologies in Our Understanding of Didactic Practice

Conference paper


It is a feature central to cooperative work that practitioners develop and maintain their collective competences and skills, and one will in many settings find elaborate didactic practices that reflect this state of affairs. The concept of ‘knowledge transfer’ that plays a key role in the knowledge management research area offers an obvious framework to the study of mutual learning. However, the notion of ‘knowledge transfer’ is a semantic pathology despite its widespread use in academia and everyday language, or more precisely, it is a conduit metaphor that mystify the very concept of didactic practice. The argument is that we need to abandon the conduit metaphor all together and present a viable alternative. In this paper we suggest that talking about ‘didactic practice’ is one such alternative and substantiate this assertion by presenting an ethnographic study of didactic practice in the building process.


Knowledge Management Knowledge Transfer Sandwich Panel Cooperative Work Everyday Language 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



A warm thanks goes to the employees of PLH Arkitekter A/S as well as E. Pihl & Søn A/S for allowing me to take up so much of their time. In addition, the contributions of the anonymous reviewers are greatly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IT-University of CopenhagenCopenhagen SDenmark

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