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Journal Article

Dear Diary: Recommendations for Researching Knowledge Transfer of the Complex  pp191-198

Carol Webb

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

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Abstract

A rich‑picture can unfold itself to the researcher who engages management practitioners as research participants in the task of qualitative, open‑ended diary‑writing while also 'feeding' the participant with reading material to consider and reflect on in the diary itself. The particular work referred to in this paper is the result of a three year long research project, from 2002‑2005, where 13 research participants were, in such a vein, asked to write a weekly work‑ based diary over the course of a year — a goal which some met and others did not. The three year study sought to find out how individual managers demonstrated making sense and learning using complexity science principles in work‑ focussed diaries. A key insight derived offers a way forward for future research on the topic of knowledge transfer of the complex by means of diaries as a qualitative research data collection tool in conjunction with ongoing, qualitatively rich interactions between researcher and research participant. The use of diaries by researchers shows their versatility as a research tool. Diaries have been used by researchers in the evaluation and interpretation of the practice of teaching, training and learning, in the study of meaning and emotions over time, in investigations into workers' and management's responses to change and uncertainty, to conduct research into personal relationships, in addition to the subject of personal identity and life transition, health, and the study of diaries themselves. The domain of complexity science provides thought‑provoking material that both challenges and complements perspectives of day‑to‑day work, thinking, and life. The ways in which people contextualise complexity science principles and other complexity science material in their work differs from case to case. While the extant literature conveyed value in making sense of experiences in working life with complexity science, there was a lack of grass‑roots practical evidence from the field provided in the literature. The use of the diary as a research tool was considered invaluable in the study undertaken and insights suggest the value of the diary in researching knowledge transfer of the complex in general. The underpinning literature, the method followed, highlights of the findings, and an overview of conclusions and implications for practice and future research are provided.

 

Keywords: qualitative diaries knowledge transfer complexity research

 

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