Nonaka´s knowledge creation theory revisited: a semiotic analysis of communicating knowledge in a geographically dispersed team

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School of Economics | Master's thesis
International Business Communication
International Business Communication
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Objectives of the study The objective of the study was to understand how Finnish and Indian team members share and communicate knowledge in multicultural project teams. In addition, the role of trust in knowledge sharing was also explored. The answers to four research questions were studied: 1) How do Finns and Indians communicate knowledge and negotiate commonly understood meanings in geographically dispersed multicultural projects? 2) How does interpersonal similarity or dissimilarity affect knowledge communication? 3) How does trust shape knowledge sharing and communication? 4) How are the different phases of ba, shared contexts, achieved, maintained and nurtured? Summary This study focused on understanding how the team members communicated knowledge. The literature review aimed at combining Nonaka and his associates’ knowledge creation theory with cultural identity and Peirce’s work on semiotics to stress the diversity between individuals. The research data was collected through semi structured and focus group interviews which were conducted in various locations in Finland and in India. Conclusions Six Peirce’s objects were identified as affecting knowledge communication: language, interpersonal similarity, attitude towards knowledge sharing, organisational environment, trust and personal relationships. In terms of interpersonal similarity, differences related to how English was utilized were seen as the biggest challenge regarding knowledge sharing. Trust, on the other hand, was found out to be a prerequisite for knowledge sharing but alone it does not suffice. Moreover, in profit-driven organisations trust was seen to have an instrumental value rather than having a value of its own. Ba was identified as necessary for knowledge sharing. It can be suggested that the team’s top management ensures the team has suitable environments, both virtual and physical, to share knowledge. When the environment is suitable for knowledge sharing it is up to the team members to consciously engage in knowledge sharing. Therefore, knowledge sharing in teams involves both planning and empathy.
communication, culture, knowledge communication, knowledge management, multinational corporations, project
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