Visual knowing and visualizing knowledge in knowledge-intensive organizations

Miikka Lehtonen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


This dissertation investigates the visual dimension of knowing and knowledge creation in knowledge-intensives organizations in Finland and Japan. Previously knowledge creation theories have predominantly focused on written and oral communication, and cognitive matters, therefore overlooking the visual and sociomaterial dimensions. To counter this, I have adopted a performative/ sociomaterial approach to visual knowing and visualizing knowledge to acknowledge the importance of non-human entities. The theoretical framework constructed for this dissertation draws on research in sociomateriality, knowing, and visual performativity in order to look at knowledge creation as a process enacted through action. This dissertation consists of five essays out of which three are empirical ones. Data for the essays was collected in three different settings: an academic unit in a leading university in Finland, a financial unit of a North European automotive industry company's Japanese subsidiary, and a Finnish design export event in Tokyo, Japan. Findings in this dissertation illustrate that knowledge creation and knowing are inherently visual, and that our understanding of them as cognitive and phenomenological processes should be complemented with sociomateriality. Moreover, findings also suggest that knowledge creation processes yield objects and artifacts that do not contain knowledge per se, but instead they – together with individuals – enable performative knowledge and knowing to emerge. The theoretical insights and empirical findings in this dissertation broaden our current understanding of knowledge creation processes by arguing for a more multifaceted stance towards knowledge and knowing. Instead of looking at knowledge as a separate entity, in this dissertation claims have been set forth that argue for visual knowing and visualizing knowledge.
Translated title of the contributionVisuaalinen tieto ja tiedon visualisointi tietointensiivisissä organisaatioissa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Piekkari, Rebecca, Supervising Professor
  • Rose, Elizabeth, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-5631-9
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-5632-6
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • international business
  • knowing
  • knowledge-intensive organizations
  • knowledge
  • knowledge creation
  • performativity
  • sociomateriality
  • visual communication


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