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KMGN Newsletter. Issue 9

                                                                    May 2023 Issue #9

KMGN Chair’s Message 

I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to the contributors of this latest edition of KMGN newsletter.

Being a network of volunteers, we rely on dedicated individuals who selflessly contribute their time, skills, and energy to drive positive change and impact for the KM profession globally. However, for any volunteer network to thrive and remain sustainable, it is crucial to prioritise renewal and succession planning.

KMGN needs to continuously attract new volunteers and maintain a diverse and vibrant membership base. This ensures the infusion of fresh perspectives, ideas, and talents, which are essential for the long-term effectiveness and relevance of KMGN. Just as a garden requires new seeds to grow, a volunteer network like KMGN needs a regular influx of new participants to foster innovation, adaptability, and growth.

Succession planning is equally vital, as it entails developing a clear strategy for transitioning leadership positions within KMGN. Effective succession planning ensures that experienced volunteers can pass on their knowledge, wisdom, and institutional memory to the next generation of leaders. By nurturing emerging leaders and providing them with opportunities to grow, KMGN can sustain its impact and prevent stagnation.

I hope to reiterate a point that was shared with network leaders at our recent BOD meeting (May 2023). We need renewal and succession planning to prevent burnout among long-standing volunteers. By actively recruiting new volunteers and providing support systems for them to thrive, KMGN can distribute the workload and prevent volunteer fatigue. Renewal and succession planning also fosters diversity and inclusivity within KMGN - across age, gender, cultural, skills, and perspectives so as to enrich our decision-making process, enhance innovation, and enable more collaborative solutions to emerge. 

Renewal and succession planning are crucial for the long-term success and sustainability of KMGN to ensure continuous infusion of fresh perspectives, prevent burnout, and adapt to evolving needs. It is an investment into the future, enabling KMGN to make a lasting impact on the global communities that we serve.


Faiz Selamat

Chair, KMGN (2023)

Editor's Letter

We are glad to present the ninth edition of the KM Global Network newsletter, in collaboration with KMGN partners from Thailand. 

In this compilation of the latest perspectives, academic research, and industry practices, our authors explore how changing technology impacts the style in which business is conducted, the productivity and dynamics of workspace relationships. Then we have two enlightening articles on recognising and learning from real-world KM and innovation practices guide our KMers on accomplishing their own KM goals. This is followed by a couple of stimulating reads from distinguished researchers of the Institute of Knowledge and Innovation, Bangkok, Thailand. They present unique juxtapositions of technology and the biases; and the former’s anticipated impact on KM and creativity.

We then dive deep into the behavioural practices of individuals, and a spectrum of knowledge hiding techniques, and how these hinder organisations and productivity. The final article is a curation of citations from various pioneering texts on sustainability – the science of creating economic, social, and environmental value through innovation in business practices and products.

The opportunities and challenges highlighted in the articles by our esteemed authors, are often present in real-world situations and facts, but sometimes obscured from us. With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies, organizations and the KM ecosystem can be primed for success by developing and employing techniques such as automation, intelligent discovery, forecasting, machine learning, etc. We hope the contents of this edition will help the readers unravel modern perspectives in knowledge management through which they can effect change for better.

Hope you enjoy the reading this issue. Happy reading!

Ritu Grover

Newsletter Editor

The effect of digital communications tools on knowledge sharing 

 Amir Reza Sinai

In today's globalized business world, multinational organizations face unique challenges when it comes to transferring knowledge across different regions and countries. Knowledge transfer, or the process of sharing and disseminating knowledge from one part of an organization to another, is critical for multinational organizations to leverage their collective expertise and stay competitive in the global market. However, several challenges can impede the effective transfer of knowledge in multinational organizations, ranging from cultural differences and language barriers to organizational structures and technology limitations.

In terms of the latter, especially in the wake of the global pandemic, the increased use of digital communication tools such as instant messaging, collaboration platforms, and video conferencing have altered the way we communicate and collaborate. The impact can be felt in every organization as meetings move from meeting rooms to the digital space. The increased use of digital communication tools in today's fast-paced life and work environment has brought about numerous benefits. People are able to communicate in real time, ask questions and receive immediate feedback regardless of their physical location. Especially for larger and geographically dispersed organizations, digital tools have enabled faster exchange of information and quick decision-making, which can greatly accelerate the transfer of knowledge within an organization.

Although digital communication could be regarded as a tool to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing among employees, one should also consider the possible long-term negative side effect of virtual teams, remote work and the "new normal" on the relationships between individuals.

For people to share their experiences and knowledge for the benefit of colleagues or the organization, interpersonal relationships play a significant role. Firstly, interpersonal relationships are built on trust to create an environment where individuals feel comfortable sharing their knowledge. When colleagues trust each other, they are more likely to share their thoughts, ideas, and insights without fear of judgment or reprisal. Secondly, positive relationships foster social connections and emotional bonding, which can create a sense of belonging and community. When individuals feel connected with their colleagues or peers, they are more likely to engage in conversations, build rapport, and establish a supportive environment. Lastly, interpersonal relationships promote collaboration and synergy, leading to collective learning and knowledge sharing. When individuals collaborate, they pool their diverse experiences, expertise, and perspectives to solve problems, make decisions, and generate new ideas. Collaboration enhances creativity, critical thinking, and innovation, and encourages individuals to learn from each other's experiences and knowledge. 

The shift from personal contacts and face-to-face meeting to tele and video conferencing, even in cases when colleagues are sitting in the same office or building, risks reducing the emotional connection between people. Digital communication tools lack the nuances of face-to-face interactions, such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language, and might lead to misinterpretations, misunderstandings, and miscommunication. The absence of non-verbal cues can make it challenging to accurately gauge emotions and build meaningful relationships, which can negatively impact interpersonal relationships. 

A phenomenon also widely discussed in the media is the potential for misuse and misconduct such as cyberbullying, harassment, or inappropriate behaviour. In the absence of face-to-face interactions, some individuals may exhibit behaviour which they would not do in a physical setting, The impersonal and superficial interactions between people reinforced by digital communication tools could have a detrimental impact on relationships, knowledge sharing and the organizational culture as a whole.

The increased use of digital communication tools in today's work environment has brought about numerous benefits, including improved efficiency and flexibility in communication. However, trust, collaboration, informal learning, motivation, and engagement might be negatively impacted by increased impersonal communication which might increase the barriers for sharing and transfer of knowledge. Organizations should recognize the importance of interpersonal relationships and create a supportive environment that fosters positive relationships to facilitate effective knowledge sharing to enhance organizational performance.

Mr. Amir Reza Sinai is a Ph.D. student at the Institute of Knowledge and Innovation South East Asia (IKI SEA) at Bangkok University. He is also the Chief Executive Officer at the regional headquarters of a German industrial conglomerate. 

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Learning from Each Other’s Proven KM Practices – The Global MIKE Award

Dr. Vincent Ribiere

As KMer, we are constantly preaching for knowledge sharing, but how good are we at sharing our KM journey and practices with other organizations? Generally, I will say that we are, unfortunately, quite poor at doing so! I don’t think that’s because we don’t want to share but more because we are rarely provided the opportunity to do. Some of us attend conferences and publicly share our KM journey. Very few write books or detailed case studies, and some research findings are shared in academic journals but often anonymized and focusing on very specific practices.  

In 2019, I was invited to become an international committee member in assessing the Global Most Innovative Knowledge Enterprise (MIKE) Award applications. Applicants have to describe in detail what they are doing based on 8 different KM and Innovation Management criteria. After being scored, and receiving a valuable feedback report from international experts, Global MIKE award winners share their application forms in order to learn from each other. At that moment, I realized that it would be good for Thailand to engage in such bench learning activities. This is what drove the IKI-SEA at Bangkok University to first launch Thailand and then Southeast Asia MIKE Award and to also now manage the Global MIKE Award. 

So, the purpose of the MIKE Award is not just to get recognition and receive an award but also to learn about other winning organizations in the same and different industries. This year we decided to further push the sharing by asking each participating organization to share 2 proven practices, one related to Knowledge Management and one related to Innovation Management. A partnership was signed with Wegrow (, a solution company offering a best practice sharing platform, to capture and share these proven practices. For each proven practice, participants are requested to share:


We believe that such detailed sharing of proven practices will increase the learning value of participating in the Global MIKE Award ( So please consider joining this Global sharing community. 

If you have any questions about the MIKE award, feel free to contact me, and let’s all practice what we preach! 😉

Dr. Vincent Ribiere is the Managing Director of the Institute for Knowledge and Innovation Southeast Asia (IKI-SEA) at Bangkok University. His team and he are currently managing the Global MIKE Award and the Southeast Asia MIKE Award. He is one of the co-founders of the KMGN and is the Program Director of the Ph.D. in Knowledge Management and Innovation Management at Bangkok University.

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Organizational KM Approach: A Case Study of Telecom Indonesia – A MIKE Award-SEA Gold Medal Winner

Chulatep Senivongse, Ph.D., Institute for Knowledge and Innovation-SEA

I had a chance to attend the Southeast Asian KM Award Ceremony, MIKE-SEA 2022, in late November 2022. The event was to present KM and IM awards to many participative organizations in Southeast Asia. The name MIKE is shortened for Most Innovative Knowledge Enterprise. The award was renamed from MAKE: Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise award, which is the award granted to the top world organizations that bring KM to life to realize and gain the benefits for its competitive advantages.

This time, Telecom Indonesia was among one of the top enterprises that received this award in Southeast Asia. They also shared their story of how KM was abided and has enriched their business performances. Telecom Indonesia has been adopting KM as a part of its business objectives over the past few years.

“KM is one puzzle among many playbooks that we have, but it is horizontal puzzle which enables all other vertical puzzles to reach their optimum results.”

–Richard Alberto, CKM, Telecom Indonesia

KM path in Telecom Indonesia started with Business Strategy alignment with the aim of cultivating knowledge from its operations and retributing it to the learning, innovation, and research perspectives of the organization. The KM program was developed under the three paradigms of People, Process, and Technology.

Telecom Indonesia’s KM program was designed with stakeholder centricity concept. It relies on the reflections from its internal and external stakeholders to respond with solutions that fit and answer the needs of its stakeholders through the new development of products and services.

Pictures with courtesy of MIKE Award and Telecom Indonesia

The driving mechanism of KM in Telecom Indonesia is based on the sound governance and organizational structure that define the roles of each individual in the organization, having the KM central team to push and drive KM strategies that fit each structural organization. The KM program capitalizes on the technologies that the company is already an expert in.

Telecom Indonesia realized that the driving of KM initiatives was not a responsibility of a single departmental unit, but the whole organization had to agree upon the principle. Telecom Indonesia’s staff turned out to be the key drivers to making the program reach success.

The KM program was designed based on the life cycle of organizational knowledge. It starts with knowledge creation and acquisition. This step begins with knowledge identification through the process of searching and collecting. Sources of knowledge can be from many business cases internally developed or from partners and other external sources.

The created knowledge must then be properly organized and managed. Technology helps with this capability. However, the quality of stored knowledge is the key. Validation and integrity of knowledge is the critical process to ensure the synthesized knowledge meets the business needs.

Knowledge assimilation is a key event that is organized all year round to ensure the stored knowledge is available for access. Knowledge representation and distribution is the key activity for this dimension.

Utilization of knowledge is the ultimate objective of the program. The company ensures the process of revisiting and reusing the knowledge collected from the past is being addressed before any future activities begin.

Performance matrices were developed from the program strategy alignment with the company’s overall vision and strategies. These matrices entail the status and performance of the program.

The implementation of the KM program in Telecom Indonesia seems straightforward, but it requires extreme efforts, collaboration, and coordination from everyone in the company. If your company is looking to rebuild or refurbish the KM program in your organization, the lessons from Telecom Indonesia may provide a solid path that helps you shorten your KM journey.

Mr. Chulatep Senivongse is a full-time academic Lecturer and Researcher at Bangkok University. With a diverse educational background in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Business Management, he was working in the IT and Telecommunication fields for almost the entirety of his career, except for a little break where he worked as Chief Knowledge Officer, during which his fondness for the area of Knowledge Management grew. 

He received his Ph.D. in Knowledge and Innovation Management from Bangkok University in 2017. 

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The Power of AI on KM and Creativity

Knowledge management (KM) is the process of capturing, organizing, disseminating, and sharing knowledge to improve decision-making and increase organizational competency. Organizations increasingly adopt KM to manage their knowledge assets more effectively. KM is not only about capturing and sharing knowledge but also about leveraging it to create new ideas. Through the use of tools such as online brainstorming platforms, employees can share their ideas and collaborate on projects. This is an open environment that encourages creativity and innovation.

One of the biggest trends in the KM and ccCreativity area is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate knowledge management processes and generate creativity. AI can be used to identify patterns in data that would be difficult or impossible for humans to uncover. This can help organizations quickly make sense of large amounts of data and gain valuable insights into their operations. AI can also be used to help employees quickly find the information they need, which is becoming increasingly popular nowadays. AI search engines such as CHATGPT can quickly sort large amounts of information to find the most relevant results. It can be used to recommend documents or content that would be useful for a specific situation using a guide of personal questions or inputs. This makes it easier for employees to stay up to date on the latest trends or insights in their field. Additionally, AI can help to generate creativity by offering new solutions according to their study of patterns and trends and by analyzing data from multiple sources. 

Examples of using AI for Knowledge Management and Creativity

However, there are still some areas in which AI cannot replace human creativity. AI algorithms cannot come up with creative ideas on their own. They lack an understanding of creative interpretation. AI can help just recognize patterns and trends and study from big data to get certain results. For example, it is not yet possible for AI to create things that have emotional depth. AI tools lack the capacity to express emotion and feeling as people do. Despite this limitation, AI is still can still prove itself to be one of the most powerful tools for KM and ccCreativity. Organizations can develop forecasts and predictions accurately that enable them to stay ahead from their competitors. AI is a most powerful tool for KM and creativity that has the potential to change the way businesses operate.

Miss Sudapa Chompunuch is a  Ph.D. candidate at the Institute for Knowledge and Innovation Southeast Asia IKI-SEA, Bangkok University and CERAG, Universite Grenoble Alpes.

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Hype Cycle and Dunning-Kruger Effect: Similarity in the differences, and ChatGPT hype

Chulatep Sebivongse, Ph.D., Institute of Knowledge and Innovation, Bangkok University

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which individuals overestimate their expertise or skill in a particular domain. A lack of self-awareness stops people from appropriately evaluating their abilities (Dunning-Kruger Effect, 2023). While cognitive biases are systematic cognitive dispositions or tendencies in human reasoning and thought, these frequently violate the principles of logic, probability reasoning, and plausibility (Korteling, J. E., & Toet, A., 2020)

The Hype Cycle is a graphical description of the stages of a technology’s lifecycle, from its initial development to its eventual decline and obsolescence. Gartner, a research and information business, developed the phrase “Hype Cycle”  (What Is the Gartner Hype Cycle?, TechTarget Definition, 2023.)

Gartner’s Hype Cycle and Dunning-Kruger Effect have characteristic similarities. The only difference is that Hype Cycle is the function of Expectation and Time, while Dunning-Kruger displays the graph as Competence and Confidence. But are they really different?

Obviously, the shape of the graphs on both sides is so similar. Dunning-Kruger’s first section of the graph is the learning curve a person learns about a new subject. The first part of the hype cycle is when a person appreciates the capabilities technology has and then puts on some expectations that the technology can do so much.

At the peak of the graph for Dunning-Kruger it means such a person thinks he knows everything about the subject and can lead any arguments with anyone regarding the subjects. In the Hype Cycle, the peak of the graph is called the “Peak of Inflated Expectations.” The technology capabilities are expected to perform many things that are so exciting. At this point, expectations are inflated with massive illusions.

Then after a while, the graph is starting to fall. For Dunning-Kruger, many arguments start to fall in, and conflict of belief starts building up. The confidence of the person starts to fall as more truths are revealed. At this point, people have to “unlearn” what they know and start to re-learn again about the fact. 

The downward slope in Dunning-Kruger is believed to govern by the culture the person is submerged in. In the Hype Cycle, the downward slope indicates the fact of what the technology can and cannot do. The incapabilities are revealed, and the expectations from such technology become less. The graph has a convex shape and is called the “trough of disillusionment.”

The last part of both graphs is in the upward direction again. For Dunning-Kruger, when people realize the fact about that subject, they gain actual knowledge and capabilities along with higher confidence. As time goes, such a person becomes an expert in that subject. In Hype Cycle the true capability of technology is realized and people know what technology can solve the problems in which way. The graph is moving to a stable state called the “plateau of productivity”, at which point, technology will perform at its best to solve problems.

The gap between the peak point and the plateau is the gap that needs to be filled in the future. In Dunning-Kruger, this gap is the missing piece of knowledge to be further studied, as it cannot explain some phenomena. In Hype Cycle, the gap is the next version of technology to be discovered.

The figure is the Hype Cycle of 2022 technology from Gartner. Gartner usually releases the Hype Cycle in the second half of the year. At that time, ChatGPT was not even yet under their radar. ChatGPT is hitting the Internet by storm, and people from every sector are trying to identify the capabilities and the expectations of how ChatGPT can help them. I believe ChatGPT is now at the peak of expectation and is about to come down the slope towards the bottom of the trough of illusion.

Now ChatGPT 4.0 is about to release with the expectation of understanding image, voice, and video for natural language processing. The new technology is climbing the upward slope as more expectation is catching up. ChatGPT needs a certain amount of time until it reaches the plateau of productivity.

There are two exceptional discussions. First, the Hype Cycle explains the phenomenon of technology influx, while Dunning-Kruger explains the learning phenomenon of people. To me, these two theories are the same thing as they depict human learning regarding the new emergence of technology. 

Second, the Hype Cycle is the plot of Expectation against Time. This is not so accurate as each technology has different speed to move from Innovation Trigger state to the Peak of Inflated Expectation, to Trough of Disillusionment, and then end on the Plateau of Productivity. Time domain must appear in equal time slot. To plot different technologies on the same graph, the Time domain should not be used. Instead, the Hype Cycle should be the plot of Expectation and Technology Capability.


Dunning-Kruger Effect. (2023, March 1). Psychology Today. 

Korteling, J. E., & Toet, A. (2020). Cognitive biases. Encyclopedia of behavioral neuroscience

What is the Gartner Hype Cycle?, TechTarget Definition. (2023, February 1). 

Mr. Chulatep Senivongse is a full-time academic Lecturer and Researcher at Bangkok University. With a diverse educational background in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Business Management, he was working in the IT and Telecommunication fields for almost the entirety of his career, except for a little break where he worked as Chief Knowledge Officer, during which his fondness for the area of Knowledge Management grew. 

He received his Ph.D. in Knowledge and Innovation Management from Bangkok University in 2017. 

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Knowledge Hiding Across Organizations is Sending out SOS Kaiyu Yang

The continuous research efforts and ongoing discussion on knowledge sharing manifest the significance academics and practitioners attach to this heated topic in knowledge management. However, that the amplification of these endeavors intensifies the elusive success of the invested efforts, is the reality. Failing to share knowledge results in a loss of at least $31.5 billion a year for Fortune 500 companies (Babcock, 2004). In 2018, the losses associated with insufficient knowledge sharing were reported to cost large US businesses up to $47 million in productivity (Panopto, 2018). It is high time to approach the problem from a different perspective, that is, to enhance knowledge sharing behavior or a knowledge sharing climate in organizations by reducing the barrier posed on the way to knowledge sharing. 

Knowledge hiding has been identified as a prevalent phenomenon across organizations. Acting as a prominent hindrance to knowledge sharing, knowledge hiding can be extremely harmful to an organization. Defined by Connelly, Zweig, Webster, and Trougakos (2012, p. 65) as “an intentional attempt by an individual to withhold or conceal knowledge that has been requested by another person”, knowledge hiding is distinct from several related concepts. By definition, knowledge hiding is driven by a subjective factor. This involvement of an intention to hide what one knows distinguishes knowledge hiding from lack of knowledge sharing, which can be driven by objective conditions, for example, the absence of the demanded knowledge. The presence of a request differentiates it from knowledge hoarding, where the knowledge holder might not be aware of the demand for their knowledge. The differences and relations between knowledge hiding, knowledge hoarding, and knowledge sharing can be seen in the framework developed by Silva de Garcia, Oliveira, and Brohman (2020) (figure 1). Moreover, the detrimental effect caused by knowledge hiding is not purposefully exerted by the knowledge holder. The lack of the intention to cause harm distinguishes it from several other related constructs like counter-productive workplace behavior, workplace aggression, social undermining, and work incivility, the perpetrators of which expect a harmful effect on either the organization or other organizational employees.

Connelly et al. (2012) found that individuals usually pursue three hiding strategies to avoid making what they know available to others. They may pretend they are ignorant of the requested knowledge (playing dumb); provide incorrect information or promise a complete answer in the future, even though with no intention to follow through with the promise (evasive hiding); or justify their failure to provide relevant knowledge by either suggesting they are not supposed to provide the knowledge requested or by blaming a third party (rationalized hiding).

Knowledge hiding behavior can be instigated by the previous exchange between the knowledge seeker and the knowledge holder, mainly when the give-and-take is not in balance and when a cost-benefit calculation is performed. Lack of reciprocity and lack of trust both serve as the premise of knowledge hiding. The psychological attachment to the requested knowledge that individuals develop, particularly for hard-earned knowledge, and the willingness to protect their existing knowledge resources from losing are also prominent motivations for them to engage in knowledge hiding behavior. In addition, when individual employees experience antisocial leadership in the work setting, they tend to hide their knowledge from their coworkers, considered as easier targets than the superior, to vent their anger and get even. In other words, knowledge hiding can be attempted as an act of retaliation or conduct of self-defense.

Knowledge hiding can be driven by positive intention, to protect a third party’s feelings, for example, or to preserve confidentiality. However, it is extensively viewed as a counter-productive behavior due to the detrimental effect it can bring to individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole. To be more specific, it can reduce individuals’ creative performance, backfire on interpersonal trust, and damage organizational innovation. Owing to its socially undesirable nature, knowledge hiding in the work setting is approached and investigated hugely by self-report scales. SOS the serious game comes as an exception by being an experimental method that strives to explore knowledge hiding with a more interactive and engaging means. 

To Share (knowledge) to master, Or to Skip (requests) and trip, that is the question. In collaboration with Sciences Po Grenoble – UGA (Université Grenoble Alpes, France), IKI-SEA (the Institute for Knowledge and Innovation Southeast Asia) is launching SOS, the serious game for both research and education purposes, aiming to assist academic studies and organization management. SOS will make the fifth serious game developed within the interCCom Project that has successfully launched four games respectively concerning intercultural competence (LINK game), social responsibility (MYM game), cultural conflicts resolution (CRIT game), and language diversity (ELITE game) in international management. Click on for more information about the project.

In SOS, the serious game, the players will experience realistic work situations when playing a part as a project team member. Throughout the working process of completing the project, they will be confronted with various knowledge requests from other colleagues and must opt for not, partially, or fully sharing their knowledge with their colleagues. What SOS, the serious game, endeavors to unveil is how organizational employees will respond to requests for knowledge (in terms of value and scarcity of the demanded knowledge) from colleagues who co-create with them either positive or negative reciprocity and are at the same or higher level in the organization. Simulation of common communication media, including emails, instant messages, and video calls, is incorporated into the game to ensure interactive-ness and realism of it. 

SOS the serious game addresses different types of knowledge in real organization settings. The knowledge requested by coworkers can be a list of experts (documents), best practices (experience), and a particular contact (relationship). To fulfill the pedagogy purpose of a serious game, ‘knowledge nuggets’ are devised and implemented between scenarios across the game process for providing knowledge about knowledge management or promoting existing knowledge sharing tools or practices in the organization.

In addition to enjoying a unique game version where the game context will be customized to create realism and knowledge sharing tools or practices available to organizational employees will get highlighted as intended, companies participating in the SOS game will be submitted a report including recommendations to get knowledge sharing behaviors evolve in the work setting while being assured of confidential data. As an individual participant, one will be able to collect an individualized report regarding their sharing and not sharing behavior with suggestions for future performance with a code known to them only once they play through the game anonymously.

For free participation in SOS, the serious game, please contact Kaiyu Yang at and Vincent Ribiere at


Babcock, P. (2004), ‘‘Shedding light on knowledge management’’, HR Magazine, Vol. 49 No. 5, pp. 46-50.

Connelly, C. E., Zweig, D., Webster, J., & Trougakos, J. P. (2012). Knowledge hiding in organizations. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33(1), 64-88. doi:10.1002/job.737

Silva de Garcia, P., Oliveira, M., & Brohman, K. (2020). Knowledge sharing, hiding and hoarding: how are they related? Knowledge Management Research and Practice. doi:10.1080/14778238.2020.1774434

Kaiyu (Karrie) YANG is a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute for Knowledge and Innovation Southeast Asia (IKI-SEA), Bangkok University. Her areas of  interest include knowledge management and organizational behavior. 

To know more about what she is working on, look up

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Sustainable Innovation

The triple-bottom-line of innovation

Ronald Vatananan-Thesenvitz, Ph.D.

Innovation is an essential driver of economic and social progress. Sustainable innovation is developing and deploying innovative products, services, and processes that create economic, social, and environmental value. Achieving sustainable development and driving environmental and social challenges is essential for sustainable innovation. Existing literature characterizes sustainable innovation by several features distinguishing it from traditional innovation.

One of these features is that the concept contributes to the triple bottom line by integrating social, economic, and environmental objectives into business strategy to enhance the firms' economic performance. In short, sustainable innovation seeks to create products and services that are economically viable, socially responsible, and environmentally sustainable. Larson (2000) and Hautamäki & Oksanen (2016) both emphasize the importance of sustainable innovation in solving "wicked problems" and balancing societal, economic, and environmental needs with long-term impacts. Longoni (2018) found that an organization's time perspective plays a crucial role in explaining the organization's degree of sustainable innovativeness and improvement of triple-bottom-line outcomes. Another distinguishing feature of sustainable innovation is its life-cycle approach that considers a product or service's environmental and social impacts throughout its life cycle in a circular manner, from raw material extraction to disposal. Sustainable innovation is also a collaborative and interdisciplinary concept involving multiple stakeholders in the innovation process, such as governments, businesses, civil society organizations, and academic institutions.

Sustainable innovation offers several benefits to society, the environment, and the economy. Firstly, sustainable innovation can contribute to achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) (UN General Assembly, 2015; Sachs, 2012) that address global sustainability challenges. The SDGs aim at adverse issues such as poverty, hunger, health, or education, but also optimistic ones such as economic integration and technological innovations (Mebratu, D., 1998; Boiral et al., 2014). Secondly, sustainable innovation can reduce the environmental footprint of economic activities, such as greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, land use, and waste generation, thus adding to climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity conservation, and resource efficiency. Thirdly, sustainable innovation can create new markets, jobs, and industries, fostering economic growth and competitiveness. Finally, sustainable innovation can enhance social and environmental accountability and transparency, promoting corporate social responsibility and stakeholder engagement.

The strategic niche management research (SNM) approach suggests facilitating sustainable innovation journeys by creating technological niches, i.e., protected spaces that allow experimentation with the co-evolution of technology, end-user practices, and regulatory structures. Schot & Geels (2008) further argue that appropriately constructed niches would act as building blocks for broader societal changes toward sustainable development. Moreover, Weidner (2012) found that sustainable innovation requires an organization-wide configuration focused on behaviors and activities such as learning and unlearning and that fostering an environment that is high in trust and focused on sensing the needs of its customers and stakeholders is critical to organizational learning and unlearning, which in turn leads to practical, sustainable innovation. Finally, Weidner et al. (2021) determined that market-based sustainability and organizational learning push sustainable innovation, contingent on public ownership and organizational unlearning.

Sustainable innovation involves developing and introducing new or improved products, services, and business models that lead to environmental and social benefits. Dearing (2000) notes that the private sector can contribute to sustainable development by developing eco-efficient ways to produce and provide products and services. For example, Araújo (2020) explicitly examines the relationship between sustainable innovation and tourism, highlighting the potential for sustainable innovation to mitigate the negative impacts of tourism on the environment and communities. Hansen (2012) defines sustainability-oriented innovation as the commercial introduction of a product or service that leads to environmental and social benefits over the prior version's life cycle. Seebode (2012) emphasizes the need for new approaches to innovation management to address the growing pressures and emerging opportunities in the sustainability agenda. Nevertheless, firms must connect their value proposition and financial model with the upstream and downstream value chain organizations to bring sustainable innovations to the market (Boons & Lüdeke-Freund, 2013).

Sustainable innovation faces several challenges that hinder its global adoption and diffusion. For example:

Sustainable innovation is a critical concept that can transform how we live, work, and consume. Its triple-bottom-line orientation, life-cycle approach, and collaborative and interdisciplinary nature characterize it. In addition, Larson (2000) states that sustainable innovation is an area of entrepreneurial opportunity and a force of creative destruction.


Araújo, C. S., & Moreira, A. C. (2020). Sustainable Innovation: Challenges in the Tourism Industry. In Building an Entrepreneurial and Sustainable Society (pp. 219-245). IGI Global.

Boiral, O., Baron, C., & Gunnlaugson, O. (2014). Environmental leadership and consciousness development: A case study among Canadian SMEs. Journal of business ethics, 123, 363-383.

Boons, F., & Lüdeke-Freund, F. (2013). Business models for sustainable innovation: state-of-the-art and steps towards a research agenda. Journal of Cleaner Production, 45, 9-19.

Dearing, A. (2000). Sustainable innovation: Drivers and barriers. Innovation and the Environment. OECD: Paris, 103-125.

Hansen, E. G., & Grosse-Dunker, F. (2012). Sustainability-oriented innovation. Encyclopedia of Corporate Social Responsibility: Heidelberg, Germany.

Hautamäki, A., & Oksanen, K. (2016). Sustainable innovation: Solving wicked problems through innovation. In Open innovation: a multifaceted perspective: Part I (pp. 87-110).

Mebratu, D. (1998). Sustainability and sustainable development: a historical and conceptual review. Environmental impact assessment review, 18(6), 493-520.

Larson, A. L. (2000). Sustainable innovation through an entrepreneurship lens. Business strategy and the environment, 9(5), 304-317.

Longoni, A., & Cagliano, R. (2018). Sustainable innovativeness and the triple bottom line: The role of organizational time perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 151, 1097-1120.

Oksanen, K., & Hautamäki, A. (2015). Sustainable innovation: A competitive advantage for innovation ecosystems. Technology Innovation Management Review, 5.

UN General Assembly (2015). Transforming our world: the Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Sachs, J. D. (2012). From millennium development goals to sustainable development goals. The Lancet, 379(9832), 2206-2211.

Schot, J., & Geels, F. W. (2008). Strategic niche management and sustainable innovation journeys: theory, findings, research agenda, and policy. Technology analysis & strategic management, 20(5), 537-554.

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Ronald Vatananan-ThesenvitzI holds a Ph.D. in the field of Technology Management, concentrating on strategic and technology road mapping. 

He is passionate about research in the areas of Data and Tech Mining, Bibliometrics, Scenario Planning, Environmental Scanning, Dynamic Capabilities, Performance Assessment and Strategic Decision-Making. 

Prior to his Ph.D., he has spent over 15 years in various management positions in Germany and Thailand.

He has participated in various consulting and training projects for companies such as Nestlé, Greenpeace, BMW, Siam Cement Group (SCG), Premier Group of Companies, TRIS Corporation and NSTDA.

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