The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management aims to publish perspectives on topics relevant to the study, implementation and management of knowledge management
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Journal Article

Designing for Innovation or Adaptation: The Symmetry, Syntopy and Synchrony of Boundary Spanning Partnerships  pp149-156

Sean Gadman

© Nov 2003 Volume 1 Issue 2, Editor: Fergal McGrath, pp1 - 226

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Abstract

The Internet is enabling a new economy based on the networking of human knowledge. While the benefits of using I.T. to connect people to people and people to information within a business are commonly understood, much less is known about the advantages of well‑managed partnerships across corporate boundaries. Building on the findings of a recent study of knowledge creating collaborations (Gadman and Cooper 2003), and the growing interest in Open Source Software development communities, (Von Hipple and Von Krogh 2003), (Cole and Lee 2003), this paper addresses the importance of selecting the most appropriate collaborative strategy to meet business needs and the challenges of managing relationships which often span organizational cultures and boundaries. The findings are relevant to any company that depends on the free flow of ideas among smart people and provides a lens through which we can learn and discover new and creative possibilities for the future.

 

Keywords: Knowledge Management Open Source Communities Communities of Common Interest, Communities of Practice, Collaboration Organisational Behaviour Organisational Design

 

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Journal Article

Understanding Knowledge‑Sharing in Online Communities of Practice  pp18-27

Mark Sharratt, Abel Usoro

© Nov 2003 Volume 1 Issue 2, Editor: Fergal McGrath, pp1 - 226

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Abstract

Information Technology is no longer regarded solely as a repository within knowledge management but also as a collaborative tool. This change of role gives rise to online communities (OLCs), which extend the loci of existing communities of practice. To leverage the potential of these communities, organisations must understand the mechanisms underpinning members' decisions to share knowledge and expertise within the community. This paper discusses existing research and develops a theoretical model of factors that affect knowledge sharing in OLCs. The aim is to increase our understanding of the antecedents to knowledge‑sharing in OLCs.

 

Keywords: knowledge sharing, online communities of practice, extrinsic rewards, motivation, trust, value congruence

 

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Journal Article

Actors and Factors: Virtual Communities for Social Innovation  pp89-96

Susan G. Restler, Diana D. Woolis

© Mar 2007 Volume 5 Issue 1, ECKM 2006, Editor: Charles Despres, pp1 - 130

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Abstract

Virtual communities of practice (COPs) are fast becoming a basic work unit in a networked world. The relationship between COPs, Knowledge Management, and the Learning Organisation is a question of priority for social sector leaders, researchers, policy makers, and practitioners as they seek to establish ways to maintain relevance and effectiveness in the volatile environments in which they work (Thomas et al, 2005). When well executed, virtual COPs produce results because the knowledge is stewarded: organised for learning, poised for action, and planned for sustainability. In this paper, we document and analyse the actors and factors that, in our experience, contribute to success: Enlightened Leadership, Compelling Work, Appropriate Technology and Knowledge Sustainability. Over the last two years we have worked with new virtual COPs in both the public and non‑profit sectors. The outsized successes prove the power of this approach to work. The under‑performers help define the parameters for more effective implementations. Perhaps surprisingly, the critical success factors for a high‑performing virtual COP have absolutely nothing to do with technological aptitude. The two key determinants of community success harken back to Business Management 101: the strategic clarity and capacity for collaborative leadership in the organisation, and the specificity and practicality of the community mission.

 

Keywords: Communities of Practice, Innovation, Knowledge Management, Virtual Communities, Non-profit Management, Public Administration

 

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Journal Article

An Analysis of Collaborative Group Structure Technological Facilitation from a Knowledge Management Perspective  pp221-228

Kevin J. O'Sullivan, Syed W. Azeem

© May 2007 Volume 5 Issue 2, ICICKM 2006, Editor: Dan Remenyi, pp131 - 254

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Abstract

A range of collaborative group structures are analysed from the perspective of knowledge management enabling technologies. A framework is developed demonstrating the application and role of specific technologies in supporting collaborative group structures including Communities of Practice, Centres of Practice, Special Interest Groups, Centres of Competence and Communities of Competence. In evaluating the utilisation of such technologies, the nature, purpose and capabilities of such group structures are analysed.

 

Keywords: communities of practice, knowledge management, communities of competence, knowledge management technologies

 

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Journal Article

A Theory‑Based Approach to the Relationship between Social Capital and Communities of Practice  pp257-264

El-Sayed Abou-Zeid

© Aug 2007 Volume 5 Issue 3, Editor: Charles Despres, pp257 - 347

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Abstract

There is almost a consensus that tacit component of organisational knowledge is of critical strategic importance because, unlike explicit knowledge, it is both inimitable and appropriable. Because of its characteristics, organisational tacit knowledge is usually created and shared through highly interactive conversation and shared experience, i.e., through a socialisation process. At the firm's level, the effectiveness of the socialisation process depends on the firm's social capital. At group level, it has been argued that communities of practice form the basis of a firm's ability to create and share tacit knowledge. Therefore, investigating the relationship between social capital, communities of practice and individual human action is crucial in understanding the dynamic of cross level knowledge creation and utilisation and in understanding organisational learning process. In order to study this relationship Giddens' theory of structuration is used as it provides an integrating meta‑theory that recognises social reality as constituted by both subjective human actors and by objective institutional properties and attempts to articulate a process‑oriented approach that relates the realm of human action and institutional realm. Based on Giddens' theory a model of the interaction between human action and social capital of the firm is developed. According to this model such interaction is mediated through a firm's communities of practice, which are conceptualised as the means for realising the different types of modality between social capital and human action. Such conceptualisation of a firm's communities of practice as the means for realising the different types of modality between social capital and human action provides a fine‑grained approach to study the impact of their elements, i.e., shared repertoire, mutual engagement and joint enterprise, on the structural, relational and cognitive dimensions of a firm's social capital respectively. In addition, it explicates the duality of firm's communities of practice, namely: they are both the medium and the outcome of collective human action. This model also shows the need for further research in two areas. First is the study of the constraining roles of a firm's communities of practice in creating and sharing organisational tacit knowledge. Second is the study of social capital influencing organisational members in their relation to communities of practice.

 

Keywords: Knowledge management, social capital, communities of practice, structuration theory

 

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Journal Article

Balancing Learning and Efficiency Crossing Practices and Projects in Project‑based Organisations: Organisational Issues. The Case History of "Practice Groups" in a Consulting Firm  pp179-190

Saverino Verteramo, Monica De Carolis

© Apr 2009 Volume 7 Issue 1, ECKM 2008, Editor: Roy Williams, pp1 - 198

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Abstract

Project‑based organizations have received increasing attention in recent years as an emerging organizational form to integrate diverse and specialized intellectual resources and expertise. A typical problem of these structures is the difficulty in sharing knowledge in and across projects. Besides, project teams are temporary and therefore much learning may be lost when they disband. Very often the storage of lessons learned is not effective; the databases are not widely used and the people are too engaged in their projects to share knowledge or help other people cope with similar problems. The inherent contradiction between organizing for meeting short‑term, project task objectives, and the longer‑term developmental nature of organizational learning processes asks for innovative organizational solutions. How can a project‑based organization be simultaneously oriented to project‑outputs and learning? The processes of knowledge capture, transfer and learning in project settings rely heavily upon social patterns and processes. This situation emphasizes the value of considering a community‑based approach to managing knowledge. Several authors suggest adding a new "dimension" (a "home" for learning, integration and development of specializedtechnical competencies) following a "Crossing‑approach" that leads to design organizational solutions in which project teams (focused on their strengths: outputs, processes or market segments) and learning groups, like CoPs, coexist. The aim of the paper is to investigate the critical points in designing and implementing these innovative organizational solutions (e.g. group design, reward system, participation modes, support mechanisms, formalization degree) that are difficult to manage and little investigated in the literature. We conducted an in depth case study research of an Italian IT Consulting firm: VP Tech. This analyzed firm introduced a particular kind of CoPs called "Practice Groups" (PGs) in a typical project‑based organizational structure. The Practices are knowledge domains (expertises) transversal to the projects or market areas. VP senior executives chose the main strategic practices to be developed and decided to aggregate the main internal experts (PGs) around these knowledge domains. The goals of PGs are to strengthen and diffuse the knowledge developed during previous projects, to monitor the state of the art, and to support professional training and problem solving for people involved in the projects. In VP Tech, PGs represent a: network in which specifically useful information can be found; learning locus in which professional competencies can be improved; social network in which both knowledge exploitation and exploration take place. The conducted case study shows: the different phases and "crisis" in implementing this organizational solution; the specific and innovative mix between formal and informal organizational levers adopted; the circular and virtuous relation between projects and practices.

 

Keywords: project-based organization, communities of practice, knowledge sharing, groups design

 

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Journal Article

Limitations of Network Analysis for Studying Efficiency and Effectiveness of Knowledge Sharing  pp53-68

Remko Helms, Renato Ignacio, Sjaak Brinkkemper

© Jan 2010 Volume 8 Issue 1, Editor: Ettore Bolisani, Enrico Scarso, pp1 - 180

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Abstract

Knowledge sharing is an important part of an employee's tasks as it is one of the mechanisms through which they learn and innovate. Sharing of knowledge typically occurs in the informal networks in the organization by means of social interaction. Several authors have proposed to use social network analysis to study the knowledge sharing relations in organizations to identify potential barriers concerning knowledge sharing. Although social network analysis has been applied in several cases, it has not been evaluated if this approach results in reliable results in terms of findings problems related to knowledge sharing. One might for instance find an isolated person with network analysis, but given the context this might not be necessary a problem. The goal of this research is to validate the use of social network analysis to study knowledge networks. We have selected one particular technique, called Knowledge Network Analysis, to evaluate in this research. The Knowledge Network Analysis technique has been applied in a case study at an international product software developer to find potential barriers in their knowledge networks. To evaluate these results, a qualitative analysis has been executed afterwards by a different researcher. This analysis was based on interviews, document study and observations. To analyze the qualitative data we developed a new model called Knowledge Sharing Environment Model (KSEM), which identifies knowledge sharing bottlenecks in a structured manner. The results from network analysis and the qualitative analysis have been compared to validate the outcomes of the network analysis. Hence, six out of nine bottlenecks were validated. This research demonstrates that Knowledge Network Analysis is a good tool for the identification of bottlenecks but needs further validation in additional case studies. However, it was suggested to combine the Knowledge Network Analysis technique with another method such as the KSEM to validate and study the causes behind the identified bottlenecks.

 

Keywords: knowledge sharing, communities of practice, learning network, knowledge network analysis, social network analysis

 

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Journal Article

Exploring the Role of Boundary Spanning in Distributed Networks of Knowledge  pp121-130

Eli Hustad, Aurilla Aurelie Bechina

© Mar 2012 Volume 10 Issue 2, ICICKM 2011, Editor: Vincent Ribière, pp110 - 207

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Abstract

Knowledge sharing and creation are considered key processes leading to innovation and organizational performance. Several organizational initiatives have focused on building communities of practice in order to create a platform where employees can share experiences and insights. The focus in this paper is on one type of network structure, termed distributed networks of knowledge (DNoK). The success of such practices is deeply linked to whether or not formalization of the networks can hamper their knowledge creation and creativity. The role of leadership has been extensively discussed in the setting of communities of practice. However, this paper intends to shed new light on the topic by exploring the boundary management perspective in order to enable knowledge sharing and creation within this specific context of DNoK. To this end, we have examined the role of leadership styles in different DNoKs in a multinational firm.

 

Keywords: leadership style, distributed networks of knowledge, communities of practice, knowledge creation, boundary spanning role, boundary management

 

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