یادگیری در جوامع دانش :: مدیریت فناوری و بافت
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|17891||2004||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Management Journal, Volume 22, Issue 1, February 2004, Pages 1–11
In contemporary organizations, significant emphasis is placed on the processes of knowledge sharing and learning, which are increasingly seen as crucial to organizational success. Information and communication technologies play an important role in these areas, but to many there is a lack of clarity regarding how such technologies can be best deployed. In this article, we provide a wide range of examples of where technology has been used to support learning in knowledge communities, with varying degrees of success. We use this material to develop specific characteristics of effective knowledge communities, and detail ways in which both the context and the technology should be managed. A key message we derive is that the maintenance of a supportive culture and context for learning and knowledge sharing is crucial, and that an integrated approach to technology deployment and use needs to be developed in conjunction with this. We argue that action in this arena is important for all levels and functions of management, not just senior managers or IT staff, since the support of effective learning and knowledge sharing in and between communities involves everyone in the organization in all job roles.
The importance of knowledge in organizations has received much emphasis over the last decade following pioneering work in the early 1990s (e.g. Nonaka, 1994). However, unlike some management initiatives that soon become unfashionable, the knowledge theme has persisted until the present time with no decrease in interest. Indeed, the literature on the topic continues to develop, with increasing recognition of the role of communities in knowledge sharing (Wenger and Snyder, 2000). Empirical evidence shows that these communities are formed within organizations as would be expected, but also between people in different organizations, coming together across boundaries to learn through sharing knowledge on particular topics (Anand et al., 2002), or to collaborate collectively on the development of artefacts such as software (Markus et al., 2000). An influential body of work focuses on learning and knowledge sharing in communities of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991 and Wenger, 1998). We will, however, use the more general term ‘knowledge communities’ in this article, since we are concerned with learning in communities which are both voluntary in terms of participation, and those with a more managed membership (Storck and Hill, 2000). We are also concerned with learning through the sharing of knowledge between communities, in what has been called the constellation of communities which exist in organizations (Wenger, 1998 and Ward, 2002). Writers on the subject of knowledge sharing have often noted the importance of a supportive context, for example in terms of a collaborative culture and appropriate incentives for sharing (Davenport et al., 1998). It has also been emphasized that this context cannot be managed in some simple top-down way, but that learning in communities needs to be cultivated through encouragement and facilitation, for example in allowing new ideas to develop and circulate within and between communities (Brown and Duguid, 2000). In addition to context, most writers on knowledge communities see a key role for information and communication technologies (McDermott, 1999 and Walsham, 2001). However, this role is normally not spelt out in any detail. In this article, we go into specifics on the role of technology in supporting knowledge communities, and we emphasize the need for the management of both technology and context in order to provide effective support for learning and knowledge sharing. For instance, we may all be aware of technologies such as e-mail, groupware, e-learning systems and teleconferencing, and they clearly have a potentially valuable role in supporting knowledge communities. However, we also know that there are constraints to the usefulness of these technologies. For example, work on virtual teams has shown that periodic face-to-face contact can be necessary to develop and reinforce trust relationships between team members (Maznevski and Chudoba, 2000). The main message of this article is that information and communication technologies (ICT), whilst providing a foundational infrastructure and environment to support learning, may not, by themselves, be sufficient to stimulate effective learning in knowledge communities. Softer issues such as motivation and the learning context are crucial in forming a supportive ‘climate’ for knowledge sharing. However, if the climate is good, then technology has a central part to play in providing the media and infrastructure for learning in and between knowledge communities. In what follows, we develop these arguments using examples, firstly, of where ICT have provided highly effective support for learning in knowledge communities. Secondly, we describe examples of where ICT learning support has been less effective. Drawing from both sets of empirical examples,1 we derive some key characteristics of effective knowledge communities, and then some management lessons as to how to promote, support and manage such communities. Although a key theme of our article concerns ICT use in knowledge communities, we want to emphasize that our messages are aimed at all managers and their staff. The role of ICT in supporting effective learning is not something that can be left to technologists or senior managers, although both these groups have a major part to play. It is something that should concern everyone engaged with organizational life. We are all members of different knowledge communities, and we all need to think carefully about how to make these communities effective, including an analysis of the role of ICT. We aim in what follows to provide some examples and concepts to help managers to think this through in their own contexts.