Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Collaboration Continuum: Cultural and Technological Enablers of Knowledge Exchange: This Working Group Is Studying Knowledge Collaboration and Its Role in Organizational Productivity and Organization. A Major Component of This Project Is an Examination of How Enterprise 2.0/social Networking Tools Can Complement Interpersonal Collaboration Networks

Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Collaboration Continuum: Cultural and Technological Enablers of Knowledge Exchange: This Working Group Is Studying Knowledge Collaboration and Its Role in Organizational Productivity and Organization. A Major Component of This Project Is an Examination of How Enterprise 2.0/social Networking Tools Can Complement Interpersonal Collaboration Networks

Article excerpt

Throughout his career, Peter Drucker often spoke about the importance of knowledge to the competitiveness of corporations. For example, in discussing past success at increasing labor productivity, Drucker suggested, "The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century is similarly to increase the productivity of knowledge work and knowledge workers" (1999, 79). Although organizations often understand that information, knowledge, and expertise are their most important assets, many still struggle in this area, wasting millions of dollars as employees re-create information that already exists, or missing opportunities when employees don't share knowledge with one another. Open knowledge sharing seems to be the exception rather than the rule, with knowledge hoarding and guarded skepticism of the knowledge offered by others de facto attitudes in many organizations.

Recognizing the value of the knowledge spread across their members, many organizations have invested a great deal of money, time, and effort in knowledge management (KM) systems. KM has a long and storied history, but the dream that knowledge can be easily captured, shared, and applied has rarely been fully realized. The repository-based view of knowledge management that dominated the field for more than a decade was quite unnatural for most employees; collaboration and knowledge exchange, it turns out, most often happen interpersonally, via informal social networks.

The recognition of the importance of tacit knowledge and interpersonal knowledge transfer as well as, implicitly, the limitations of a repository-only approach to KM are certainly not new. Polanyi (1966) is often credited with highlighting the importance of tacit knowledge (knowledge that is difficult to codify, embedded in individuals' and groups' experiences, and difficult to transfer without high degrees of shared understanding). Nonaka (1991) builds on these concepts to describe the interplay of tacit and explicit knowledge and the sequential building of knowledge between individuals and groups within organizations. This perspective, which has been further developed in hundreds of papers and books, highlights the fact that the transfer and collaborative building of knowledge, not simply its retention, should be the phenomena of greatest interest. Unfortunately, for many years the IT tools available for KM have been disconnected from theory and research, and theory was often perceived as too abstract or impractical for organizations to act on. In the last few years, Web 2.0 technologies (e.g., social networking tools, wikis, blogs, electronic forums, microblogging applications, and rating and ranking systems) have entered the corporate knowledge environment. These systems offer tremendous potential to exploit informal social connections, leverage tacit knowledge, and shift the focus to knowledge transfer and the social creation of knowledge. Unfortunately, these systems also have many of their own challenges.

Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0) or Enterprise Social Computing are terms used to describe the use of emergent social computing platforms within organizations or between organizations and their suppliers, partners, or customers to connect people throughout the enterprise and facilitate knowledge-sharing and collaboration in more natural ways. (1) These interconnected, open platforms enable emergent collaboration and allow organizations to leverage the collective intelligence of their employees.

Collaboration Continuum Working Group / Project

The Collaboration Continuum working group was initiated last year as a part of the Industrial Research Institute's Research-on-Research program. The project seeks to draw on the experience of companies already successfully using E2.0 to develop solid empirical evidence of the pre-conditions necessary for E2.0 success. We also seek to explore the value of E2.0 in enabling collaboration and ultimately innovation. …

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