The role of mentorship in universities: the knowledge management framework
Abstract: In this paper we discuss mentorship in the university context with a focus on knowledge sharing and creation. We assume from the outset that academics and actors representing practice, as well as students, can be considered as distinct or interlinked communities of practice, where the participants of the community share similar values, norms and practices that follow community-specific dominant logics. We suggest there is a role for mentors between academia, student life and fields of practice, and that the knowledge creation and sharing processes can take different formats, similar to changing mentor roles in facilitating or sharing the knowledge processes.
We discuss the roles of mentors in the knowledge sharing contexts of communities of practice building on previous studies reflecting the professional identity of students and mentoring in those same contexts. We look at knowledge and learning as processes, acknowledging the specific nature of tacit and explicit knowledge following the perspectives from the SECI model and experiential learning. We further elaborate the role of mentors in sharing and building knowledge focusing on the university context. The results indicate that mentoring takes various forms and needs different enabling processes in different contexts within university cycles. The role of informal unexpected mentoring occurring within the ‘ordinary’ learning context is often ignored. The contribution of the paper provides a deeper understanding of mentoring in the university, as well as elaborating on the mentor as a knowledge activist contributing new insights in knowledge management discussions. The study has managerial implications related to new approaches to transforming mentoring from being an “add-on” activity to an integrated part of university curriculum development.
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