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Creating knowledge in a geographically dispersed context : process and moderating variables

Increasingly, knowledge-based tasks such as new product development and market research are being conducted by geographically dispersed teams. Early evidence from knowledge-based view of the firm and geographically dispersed work literatures suggests that at least four kinds of knowledge gaps---transactive memory system, mutual knowledge, categorization and situated knowledge---exist because of the (dispersed) structure of the knowledge management context . Dispersed members therefore cannot take for granted that they have a common context, making dispersed collaboration problematic. / The dissertation - a qualitative, theory-generating exercise - seeks to address the question, 'how do dispersed teams collaborate to create useful knowledge?' Specifically, the research question examines the integral elements of the knowledge creation process, the negotiation of knowledge gaps for co-creating a common context, and the association between the negotiation of these gaps with the efficiency of the knowledge creation process, effectiveness of new knowledge created, and cohesion in the team. This research has been conducted in two phases - an exploratory ethnographic study followed by a replication study. / Analysis of the data instead directed my attention to the critical role of moderating variables such as degree of familiarity among dispersed team members, degree of redundancy of knowledge structures among them and the nature of task on the perceived presence or absence of gaps. These findings clarify the literature by differentiating between the structure and the properties of the knowledge management context and therefore develop a more comprehensive model of these moderating variables that have the potential to affect the dispersed knowledge creation process. Specifically, the findings demonstrate that degree of redundancy is positively associated with the efficiency of the knowledge creation process. These studies also suggest that dispersed collaboration may be less different from collocated collaboration than previously thought. Finally, these studies contribute to the dispersed work literature by suggesting that all kinds of dispersed work are not alike and face-to-face meetings may not be necessary for all types of dispersed work. / These findings are used to develop a theory of dispersed knowledge work and have implications for determining whether and in what contexts geographic distance matters for conducting knowledge work. One implication is that perceptions of distance may be at least as important as the objective aspects of distance. Another implication is that whether geographic distance matters will actually depend upon the competitive strategy of the firm.
Date January 2005
CreatorsAssudani, Rashmi H.
PublisherMcGill University
Source SetsLibrary and Archives Canada ETDs Repository / Centre d'archives des thèses électroniques de Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation
CoverageDoctor of Philosophy (Faculty of Management.)
RightsAll items in eScholarship@McGill are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
Relationalephsysno: 002294273, proquestno: AAINR21615, Theses scanned by UMI/ProQuest.

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