E-communication of Interdepartmental Knowledge: An Action Research Study of Process Improvement Groups

E-communication of Interdepartmental Knowledge: An Action Research Study of Process Improvement Groups

Ned Kock (Temple University, USA) and Robert J. McQueen (University of Waikato, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-930708-32-7.ch007
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Abstract

This chapter presents a review of the organizational learning literature that points to process improvement (PI) groups as an appropriate tool for organizational knowledge communication. Based on this review, the impact of support provided by a class of e-communication systems, email conferencing (EC), on knowledge dissemination in organizations is examined in the context of PI groups. Data was collected through an action research project, where the researcher facilitated seven PI groups in two organizations with the support of an EC system implemented with Novell Groupwise, and using a group methodology for PI called MetaProi. The study suggests that, overall, EC support seems to have a positive impact on knowledge dissemination in organizations when used in combination with a group methodology for PI. EC support effects on PI groups can be summarized as: (a) a reduction of the influence of distance and other physical obstacles to the participation of members from different departments in PI groups, and of the disruption that group discussions are likely to cause for individual group members, particularly when these members are from different departments; (b) a reduction of interdepartmental conflict obstacles to the formation of PI groups; and (c) an increase or decrease in individual learning in PI groups, depending on the complexity of the issues being discussed and the clarity of electronic contributions by members. Organizational implications of these research findings are discussed.

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