Potential Enablers of Knowledge Collaboration in Ego-centered Networks of Professionals: Transactive Memory, Trust, and Reciprocity

By Mahmood ul Quddus Khan Ghaznavi, Martin Perry, Paul Toulson and Keri Logan.

Published by Knowledge Management: An International Journal

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In many knowledge intensive professions, knowledge workers coordinate specialised advice from other knowledge experts to resolve non-routine problems at work. For speedy, reliable, and economic access to the relevant knowledge, modern knowledge workers develop and maintain ties with other knowledge experts. Such personal ties between knowledge workers develop irrespective of the organisational boundaries and formal structures, and are known as ego-centered networks of professionals. Knowledge sharing research has found personal connections between knowledge workers an important means of information and knowledge transfer among professionals. So far, little is known how knowledge workers transform their personal connections into useful knowledge collaboration, and how they manage the risk and complexities involved in interactions in the absence of formal structures and organisational control mechanisms. Prior studies have indicated the use of transactive memory systems in coordinating specialized knowledge to resolve problems collaboratively. Knowledge management researchers have emphasized the role of trust in sharing knowledge through social means. Informal information trading literature highlights the role of reciprocity in knowledge sharing through social means. Building on theories of transactive memory systems, social exchange, and trust; this paper presents a theoretical model to explain how informal knowledge sharing relationships develop and sustain among professionals. The paper argues that transactive memory, trust, and reciprocity delineate informal structures within ego-centered networks of professionals to allow them sharing of know-how and expertise with each other.

Keywords: Knowledge Sharing, Ego-centered Knowledge Networks Transactive Memory, Interpersonal Trust, Norm of Reciprocity

Knowledge Management: An International Journal, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp.71-82. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 342.151KB).

Mahmood ul Quddus Khan Ghaznavi

Doctoral Candidate, College of Business, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

I am a PhD candidate at the School of Management, Massey University, New Zealand. My areas of interest include: management information systems, project management, information management, and knowledge management. My current area of research is the role of ego-centered (personal) knowledge networks in informal information and knowledge collaboration between knowledge workers. I also served as a middle-level professional in the central bank of my country, where I was involved in planning IT initiatives, investments, and managing the corporate IT needs of the bank. I am the present secretary of the New Zealand Knowledge Management Network. The network is designed to create a strong professional community of individuals and organizations engaged in knowledge management-related activities in New Zealand. While doing my research in knowledge management, I have a passion to promote informal knowledge collaboration among knowledge workers who work in different organizations, but belong to similar professions and knowledge domains.

Dr Martin Perry

Associate Professor, School of Management, Massey University, New Zealand

Martin's research interests are mainly in the areas of local economic development and the New Zealand business environment. He is particularly expert in the evaluation of policies aimed at the promotion of small enterprise and regional development and in investigating industry development. His publications include three books published by Routledge: Controversies in Local Economic Development, Business Clusters: An International Perspective, Small firms and Network Economies. Prior to joining Massey University he worked as a senior research analyst for the Department of Labour and prior to that he was an associate professor in the Department of geography, National University of Singapore.

Associate Prof Paul Toulson

Associate Professor, School of Management, Massey University, New Zealand

Paul is interested in the whole area of people in enterprises as valuable resources, and also measuring the impact of HR practices and interventions in terms of their strategic contribution to the objectives of the organisation (HR metrics). He has been involved in a major research project involving valuing HR when an initial baseline study was completed and published in 2004 (Phase 1 of the VHR project). Phase 2 of the project (a qualitative study), completed and published in 2009, which involved a qualitative study of the use of HR metrics in New Zealand organisations. This work built on the findings of Phase 1 of the project. His work has international links in the United Kingdom. Currently he is the principal investigator of a multi-disciplinary research project in the School of Management (Phase 3 of the Project). This is a national survey of the use of HRM measurement in the Health sector, namely registered nurses. At this stage data has been collected on just under 1,000 RNs, consisting of both quantitative and qualitative data. His research interests also continue in the HRM selection and appraisal areas, strategic HRM, and also human capital as a part of intellectual capital.

Dr. Keri Logan

Senior Lecturer, Business Information Systems, Department of Management, College of Business, Massey University Wellington Campus, Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Keri is interested in social informatics research that includes: Digital divide, The learning environment, Women in IT, The IT work environment. Keri is the co-author of the book chapter “Managing New Zealand women in IT. In P. Yoong, & S. Huff (Eds.) Managing IT Professionals in the Internet Age”.