Organizing depends on the integration of specialized knowledge that lies distributed across individuals. There are benefits from specialization, and, yet, the integration of knowledge across boundaries is critical for organizational vitality. How do organizations benefit from knowledge that lies in different domains without having to transfer knowledge? This paper describes results of two exploratory ethnographic studies of knowledge integration in industrial research organizations. It introduces a knowledge integration mechanism - ‘thinking along’ – that has not received much attention by researchers before. Thinking along is a mechanism that allows for knowledge integration without the need for transfer. As a consequence, benefits of specialization obtain even as knowledge from one domain informs knowledge from another. The paper describes how researchers use thinking along to integrate knowledge within and across boundaries. It concludes with implications for knowledge management and future research.
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