Knowledge sharing in electronic working environments - experiences and practices of knowledge workers

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School of Economics | Master's thesis
International Business Communication
International Business Communication
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Objective of the Study The objective of the study was to discover how knowledge workers use electronic working environments (EWEs) to share and communicate knowledge and what are the perceived benefits using EWEs. The case company is a knowledge intensive company operating in sales consulting. Knowledge sharing practices were studied within the case company in order to answer the following research questions 1) How do the employees use EWEs? 2) How do they share knowledge using the EWEs? 3) What are the perceived benefits of the use of the EWEs? Methodology and the Theoretical Framework The data in this qualitative single case study was collected by conducting 10 semi-structured interviews and conducting observation in the case company. Several background interviews were conducted before the data collection to gain understanding of the phenomenon. The interviews were conducted in Helsinki in the summer of 2010 and they included employees from all organizational levels to get a comprehensive picture of the use of EWEs in the case company. The theoretical framework of the study is based on a combination of Media Richness Theory and knowledge sharing literature as well as Enterprise 2.0 literature. Findings and Conclusions A variety of usage patterns of EWEs were found in the sample. Experienced users were able to identify a large number and more important uses for the technology than the ones who were less active. Notable knowledge sharing practices found in the study were search-based practices. Searches are still mainly conducted based on the hierarchical model. Searching data based on tags is getting popular by demand from employees who have been with the company for a shorter period of time. As literature on knowledge sharing suggests, culture seems to play a vital role in knowledge communication in EWEs. Knowledge sharing practices were based mainly on existing, explicit knowledge.
Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, electronic working environments, international business communication, knowledge, knowledge sharing, media richness theory, tacit knowledge
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