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					Leveraging Collaborative Technologies for Sharing Tacit Knowledge: An Integrative Model
(Research in progress)

Vikas Sahasrabudhe (svikas@gwu.edu) Subhasish Dasgupta (dasgupta@gwu.edu) The George Washington University ASC 2005 – Washington, DC

Outline of presentation
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Research objective Definitions Relevant current theories and models Proposed integrative model Propositions Results from an experiment Next steps

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Research objective
Develop a model to assess the potential of collaborative technologies for sharing tacit knowledge in an organization (without having to make it explicit). Subsequent, practical objectives are to: ● Identify features and functions that ought to be present in collaborative technologies to enable sharing of tacit knowledge in an organization and ● Provide an appropriate policy framework to enable sharing of tacit knowledge in an organization.

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Applicability/importance
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Organizations are eager to “tap” their knowledge assets in the interest of their business objectives; it is increasingly important for organizations that are geographically dispersed, even global. Significant amount of knowledge in most organizations is tacit, and is not or cannot be made explicit for sharing. Using information technology for sharing knowledge has been studied for many years, IT capabilities and availability have increased significantly, and yet there is no clear evidence of wide use of such collaborative technologies for sharing knowledge that is not made explicit.

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Past and current mechanisms

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Need for “virtual water-cooler”

Collaborative Technologies
(Virtual Water Cooler)

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Definitions
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Collaborative technologies are systems that create an environment in which individuals and groups to communicate with each other. They provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and knowledge. (e.g. e-mail, instant messaging, chat rooms, discussion groups, groupware) Tacit knowledge is knowledge that is not made explicit, generally that is in the head of individuals.

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Relevant current theories and models
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Technology acceptance model (2) Theory of planned behavior Innovation diffusion theory Social cognitive theory Communities of practice Social networking theory Other published results

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Proposed integrative model
Individual characteristics affecting use of collaborative technologies Individual characteristics affecting sharing of tacit knowledge

Use of collaborative technologies

Sharing of tacit knowledge

Organizational characteristics affecting use of collaborative technologies

Organizational characteristics affecting sharing of tacit knowledge

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Propositions on individual characteristics affecting use of collaborative technologies

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Affecting positively: perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, subjective norm Affecting negatively: perceived behavioral control

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Propositions on organizational characteristics affecting use of collaborative technologies

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Affecting positively: role of MIS personnel, organizational size Affecting negatively: actual behavioral control

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Proposition on use of collaborative technologies affecting sharing of tacit knowledge

The more collaborative technologies are used in an organization, the more sharing of tacit knowledge will take place.

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Propositions on individual characteristics affecting sharing of tacit knowledge

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Affecting positively: propensity to share/adopt new ideas, image, and outcome expectations Affecting negatively: perceived behavioral control

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Propositions on organizational characteristics affecting sharing of tacit knowledge

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Affecting positively: support and time for communicating new ideas, social system of norms, task interdependence, meaningful rewards, mechanisms for reputation building, and mechanisms for community building Affecting negatively: Actual behavioral control “Ownership” of new ideas will affect positively if individuals own them, and negatively if the organization owns them.

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First experiment

● A discussion forum set-up for use by a total of 42 students
enrolled in two courses and seeking feedback from them at the end of the semester on their experience and perception of potential future use.
● Not testing for statistical significance, but seeking only descriptive statistics. ● Focused only on individual characteristics for using collaborative technologies and for sharing tacit knowledge, intentionally without any organizational settings or constraints.

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Findings
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All the students said that they were not averse to sharing knowledge, 40 (out of 42) students said that they were not averse to using the discussion forum, And yet, 38 (out of 42) students did not use the discussion forum. (This was expected in the absence of any organizational setting or constraints). The reasons given were: □ Were not required use it (20) □ Did not have time (7) □ Did not need it (4) □ Only if others needed it (4) □ E-mail was better choice (3)
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Findings (continued)
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Those did not use the discussion forum were surveyed to find out their perceptions of potential use of the forum to share tacit knowledge. They were asked to respond to 9 statements on a 7-point scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The frequency of responses to each statement were analyzed for descriptive statistics.

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Findings (continued)
○ A very small minority of respondents were negative about the (potential) usefulness of the discussion forum and its ease of use. ○ More than a third of the respondents agreed that: ● discussion forum will be easy to use ● discussion forum will be useful in assignments ○ Majority of the respondents indicated that use of discussion forum should not be made mandatory. ○ And majority of the respondents were neutral on their intention to use the discussion forum if made available the following semester.

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Current experiment
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The results were encouraging enough in support of the propositions dealing with individual characteristics An expanded experiment this semester includes one organizational characteristic, namely task interdependence.

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Each student is provided access to two discussion forums, namely one for all students and one for his/her team working on a group project.

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Next steps
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Collect data on actual use, perceptions of ease of use and usefulness, and perceptions about other organizational characteristics that may affect use and usefulness. Based on the results – refine the model, refine and expand experiments, conduct rigorous analysis of the model.

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