Publication Date

August 2005


Sustainable competitive advantage is increasingly dependent upon a firm’s ability to manage both its knowledge stocks and flows. We examine how different employees’ knowledge stocks are managed within a firm and how—through their recombination and renewal—those stocks can create sustainable competitive advantage. To do this, we first establish an architectural framework for managing human resources and review how the framework provides a foundation for studying alternative employment arrangements used by firms in allocating knowledge stocks. Next, we extend the architecture by examining how knowledge stocks (human capital) can be both recombined and renewed through cooperative and entrepreneurial archetypes. We then position two HR configurations to focus on facilitating these two archetypes. By identifying and managing different forms of social capital across employee groups within the architecture, HR practices can facilitate the flow of knowledge within the firm, which ultimately leads to sustainable competitive advantage.


Suggested Citation
Morris, S., Snell, S. A. & Lepak, D. (2005). An architectural approach to managing knowledge stocks and flows: Implications for reinventing the HR function (CAHRS Working Paper #05-15). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.