Supporting informal knowledge communites: a connectors-based knowledge integration infrastructure

Christina Ai Ghee Kum

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

The goal of this thesis is to explore the design of a knowledge integration infrastructure so informal knowledge communities can be empowered to contribute to formal organisational knowledge sharing intentions. It uses Activity Theory as a theoretical lens in a interpretive case study method to explore how artefacts and roles, also referred to as connectors, mediate knowledge integration. The findings from the investigation are then embellished with inferences from existing literature on designing technological supporting infrastructure to derive design guidelines for Connectors-based Knowledge Integration Infrastructure. Informal knowledge communities refer to voluntary and self-organising groupings within organisations, which are built upon informal social relationships to share expertise and experiences of work practices. They are believed to be invaluable to organisational knowledge sharing but efforts to formally capitalise on their latent potential is complicated by their vulnerability towards traditional forms of management interventions. This poses a great challenge for any deliberate and formal attempts to take advantage of these practice-based social entities. This thesis takes a connectors-based approach to the design of supporting knowledge integration infrastructure that encourages rather than enforces contributions from informal knowledge communities. The forms and functions of connectors that mediate knowledge integration are investigated using three case studies where participants are involved in inter-community knowledge integration. Data is collected through interviews, observation, questionnaires and document analysis. The qualitative data from the investigation confirms the importance of connectors for knowledge integration and provides insights into how cluster of artefacts and roles work together to mediate knowledge integration. From the findings, guidelines for a Connectors-based Knowledge Integration Infrastructure are developed.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2009

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