A Complex Adaptive Systems-Based Enterprise Knowledge Sharing Model

A Complex Adaptive Systems-Based Enterprise Knowledge Sharing Model

Cynthia T. Small (The MITRE Corporation, USA) and Andrew P. Sage (George Mason University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-976-2.ch015
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Abstract

This paper describes a complex adaptive systems (CAS)-based enterprise knowledge-sharing (KnS) model. The CAS-based enterprise KnS model consists of a CAS-based KnS framework and a multi-agent simulation model. Enterprise knowledge sharing is modeled as the emergent behavior of knowledge workers interacting with the KnS environment and other knowledge workers. The CAS-based enterprise KnS model is developed to aid knowledge management (KM) leadership and other KnS researchers in gaining an enhanced understanding of KnS behavior and its influences. A premise of this research is that a better understanding of KnS influences can result in enhanced decision-making of KnS interventions that can result in improvements in KnS behavior.
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Cas-Based Modeling Of Enterprise Knowledge Sharing

The enterprise KnS model developed here models enterprise knowledge sharing from a complex adaptive systems perspective. Hypothetical concepts that are fundamental to the development of this CAS-based model and to this research include:

  • 1.

    Knowledge sharing is a human behavior performed by knowledge workers;

  • 2.

    Knowledge workers are diverse and heterogeneous;

  • 3.

    Knowledge workers may choose to share knowledge; and

  • 4.

    The KnS decision is influenced by other knowledge workers and the KnS environment.

Enterprise knowledge sharing is the result of the decisions made by knowledge workers, individually and as members of teams, regarding knowledge sharing. As depicted in Figure 1, there are two major decisions (rectangles) that a knowledge worker makes: “Share Knowledge?” and “Type of Knowledge to Share?” This research models the KnS decisions as being influenced by the attributes of the individual knowledge worker, the KnS behavior of other knowledge workers, and the state of the KnS environment. Previous KnS studies and research identify factors that influence KnS behavior. However, few address the heterogeneity of knowledge workers and how the attributes of the individual knowledge worker, and knowledge worker teams, impact KnS behavior. The emergent enterprise KnS behavior, noted by the diamond shape in Figure 1, is the result of the interactions of the knowledge worker with the KnS environment and other knowledge workers. Relevant aspects of enterprise KnS behavior and the associated KnS influences are discussed in the sections that follow.

Figure 1.

Enterprise KnS influence diagram

Enterprise KnS behavior takes on many forms. It can be a conversation around a water fountain, e-mail sent to a co-worker or a group forum, a presentation to a small group, an enterprise “best-practice” forum, or documents published to a corporate repository. Murray (2003) categorizes KnS activities into technology-assisted communication (videoconferencing, databanks/intranet, e-mail, and teleconferencing), meetings (face-to-face interaction, seminars and conferences, social events, and retreats), and training and development (mentoring, instructional lectures, video tapes, and simulation games). This research combines the two types of knowledge (tacit and explicit) and the ontological dimension (individual, group, and organization) of knowledge creation presented by Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) to derive the types of KnS behavior for the model. The KnS behaviors investigated and incorporated in the enterprise KnS model are as follows:

  • 1.

    Individual tacit: This behavior includes sharing tacit knowledge with an individual or individuals, such as face-to-face interactions in informal or formal meetings.

  • 2.

    Individual explicit: This behavior includes sharing explicit knowledge with an individual or individuals, such as through sending e-mail or hard copy material to select individual(s).

  • 3.

    Group tacit: This behavior includes sharing tacit knowledge with a group, such as face-to-face interactions with a community of interest, community of practice (CoP), or organizational unit.

  • 4.

    Group explicit: This behavior includes sharing explicit knowledge with a group, such as posting or contributing to a community of interest, CoP, or organizational unit repository, Web site, or mailing list server.

  • 5.

    Enterprise tacit: This behavior includes sharing tacit knowledge in an enterprise-wide forum, such as presenting at a technical exchange meeting or other forum that is open to the entire enterprise.

  • 6.

    Enterprise explicit: This behavior includes sharing explicit knowledge in a manner that makes it available to anyone in the enterprise, such as publishing in a corporate-wide repository or enterprise-wide intranet.

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