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Principles in Brief

Republic of Science


Superior knowledge and a culture that empowers everyone to realize their potential and fully contribute are essential for long-term business success. Knowledge is more than data, facts or information; it’s understanding, know-how, and all other value-adding capabilities. 

Michael Polanyi’s Republic of Science principle is a valuable guide that describes the way the scientific community ideally organizes itself so knowledge is generated and shared freely, leading to beneficial innovations. When scientists are free to work on problems that fit their abilities and interests and are well-informed about the work of others, they learn, adjust their efforts and make discoveries.

Just as science advances through the extension and application of general principles, improving our application of principles of human progress enables us to discover new approaches leading to continual innovation and transformation. 

We are able to create superior value for others and ourselves when we apply these principles. Rather than settling for what we’ve done in the past or what others are doing, we constantly share knowledge and ideas, test hypotheses, experiment, identify and close gaps, challenge and adjust according to what works.

Progress starts by recognizing that there is always a better way. To discover that better way, we build multiple knowledge networks: inside our business and capability groups; throughout Koch; within our industries and fields of expertise; and anywhere else that may help us discover how to create more value. This is critical, because no isolated individual or group can match the world’s rapid innovation and improvement.

Our knowledge advances as we use these networks to help initiate individual efforts to improve results, which we subject to the tests of evidence and criticism. When a culture of respect and trust exists, employees share their ideas and seek the best knowledge to anticipate and solve problems. Open, honest exchanges lead to the discovery of new and better ways to create value. Such exchanges occur only when we eliminate stifling hierarchies, dictates, taboos, procedures or fears and properly apply our principles and incentives instead.