Actors and Their Contexts
Actors and their contexts are major factors in the shaping of knowledge dynamics. As discussed above, innovation in social entrepreneurship is largely dependent upon the contribution of diverse types of knowledge from an array of actors across various sectors. In tourism for instance, along with the knowledge contributed by tourism experts and tourism social entrepreneurs, various levels of government, donors, NGOs and local communities are also considered important knowledge sources. In addition to the identification of actors and their contextual settings in five different knowledge phases, this case study also identifies cross-sectoral engagement along with the geographical spread of the actors’ social interactions.
Knowledge interaction refers to the movement, coalescence and structuring of different knowledge types into transformative understandings. While we acknowledge the existence of a wide variety of knowledge (e.g. explicit, tacit, embrained, embodied), for the purpose of this chapter, two main knowledge types are explored: explicit (i.e., knowledge that is highly structured and can be expressed in clear forms of language such as words and numbers) and tacit (i.e., knowledge that is hard to articulate in formal terms and embedded in individuals’ personal intangible qualities such as their beliefs, experience and values) (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). Tacit and explicit knowledge are not static; they are dynamic and can be repeatedly transformed through diverse interactions between actors and/or groups of actors (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). Key events in knowledge interactions can be captured by putting together diverse actors’ ‘story-telling’ of the innovation process (Jokela, Niinikoski, & Muhos, 2015).
The knowledge biography approach enables the dynamism of knowledge flows in the innovation process to be grasped and communicated without being restricted to geographical territories or sectoral boundaries. More importantly, by combining the key elements of knowledge dynamics, the knowledge biography approach allows actors in tourism social entrepreneurship to better appreciate the diversity of participants and contextual settings, the complexity of the relationships that take place between actors and the dynamics of knowledge interactions. This in turn, allows actors to take active steps to explicitly include knowledge dynamics into their thinking. This has practical significance given that social entrepreneurship communities of practices often work at the coalface, having little time to reflect on the use, or movement, or interpretative acts that occur within their environment. Nevertheless, these dynamics can have profound effects both on individual social enterprises and, by way of transfer, on the ecology of social change within broader communities.