The intelligence worker as a knowledge activist – an alternative view on intelligence by the use of Burke’s pentad

Magnus Hoppe


As society and business is becoming more complex, the creation and management of knowledge attracts more attention. For intelligence research it offers an alternative perspective on the art and science of intelligence that challenges a previous dominance of strategy and decision-making theories. The article is based on semi-structured interviews with intelligence personnel in four different multinational companies. Through the use of Burke’s pentad this article gives an account of important challenges encountered by intelligence personnel in modern business organizations due to an increasing dependence on different knowledge processes. These challenges are summarized in four central tasks for knowledge activists; that is to initiate and focus knowledge creation, to reduce the time and cost needed for knowledge creation, to leverage knowledge creation initiatives throughout the corporation and to guide knowledge creation by the instigation of complementary reference points. By engaging in these types of activities intelligence workers are able to stage and influence different sorts of analytical conversations, where the insights from these conversations as reformed knowledge govern an evolving strategy in dispersed circumstances. Thus, intelligence workers fulfil their purpose, which in this perspective can be viewed as creating better business in whatever process they engage in.


Knowledge Activism, Knowledge Creation, Knowledge Management, Organizational learning, Organizational Change, Analytical Conversation, Complexity, Burke’s Pentad, Competitive Intelligence, Organized Intelligence Work

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