Making knowledge work in practice

Vellema, Sietze; Adomaa, Faustina Obeng; Schoonhoven-Speijer, Mirjam


The premise of this chapter is that a focus on practices and their relationships opens a methodological space to investigate how a variety of actors or small groups make knowledge work. The chapter contextualises the methodological discussion in global commodity chains and local food markets, which feature a layered organisational set-up and spatially distributed tasks. It offers a methodological perspective which emphasises: (1) the use of knowledge to make situated practices work; (2) underlying processes of coordination emerging from mutually constituting practices distributed in space; (3) the processes configuring externally-induced and knowledge-based interventions with situated practices. This chapter combines literature at the interface between organisation studies, technology studies, and learning studies, using a practice lens to study knowledge as an accomplishment and an essentially social activity. Two case studies substantiate this methodological perspective: pruning in the global commodity chain of cocoa in Ghana; and the practice of aggregating volumes in local food markets for oilseed and edible oil in Uganda. The focus on knowing as emerging from situated practice is appreciative of local problem-solving capacities, and contributes to detecting and opening spaces for inserting these capacities in the specialised knowing generated in mainstream science and technology institutes.