The Knowledge Sharing Model: Stressing the Importance of Social Ties and Capital

The Knowledge Sharing Model: Stressing the Importance of Social Ties and Capital

Gunilla Widén-Wulff (Åbo Akademi University, Finland) and Reima Suomi (Turku School of Economics, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-128-5.ch009
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This chapter works out a method on how information resources in organizations can be turned into a knowledge sharing (KS) information culture, which can further feed business success. This process is complicated, and the value chain can be broken in many places. In this study this process is viewed in the light of resource-based theory. A KS-model is developed where the hard information resources of time, people and computers are defined. When wisely used, these make communication a core competence for the company. As the soft information resources are added, that is the intellectual capital, KS, and willingness to learn, a knowledge sharing culture is developed, which feeds business success. This model is empirically discussed through a case study of fifteen Finnish insurance companies. The overall KS capability of a company corresponds positively to the different dimensions applied in the model. KS is an interactive process where organizations must work on both hard information resources, the basic cornerstones of any knowledge sharing, and makes constant investment into soft information resources, learning, intellectual capital and process design in order to manage their information resources effectively.
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In the global world with rich information flows coming from many different sources and channels, an organization’s ability to manage knowledge effectively becomes a prerequisite for success and innovativeness. This is especially important in information and technology intensive industries. In these circumstances a greater awareness and a more active debate is needed concerning the creation of internal environments and the organizational ability to support collective knowledge production and knowledge sharing. These information literacy skills are increasingly underlined in different organizational contexts (Abell 2000). An information literate organization has the ability to seek information, but also to understand, evaluate, integrate it into the existing knowledge base, and critically use it (Doyle 1995). However this is not easily done.

In this chapter we will try to illuminate the problematic issues surrounding knowledge sharing in information and communication intensive organizations, based on a study of information cultures in Finnish insurance businesses:

  • How is the internal environment built to support information and knowledge sharing in information intensive companies?

  • How can information resources in organizations be turned into a knowledge-sharing information culture, which further can feed business success?

The chapter develops an understanding of the internal structures important to sharing. These structures are important in any organisation and particularly in information-intensive branches. The assumption is that a company with a rich and active information culture and with the different parts of the learning organization integrated also indicates a successful business.

To begin with, some central concepts are defined such as knowledge, knowledge sharing, information culture, and human and intellectual capital. Further, the context of the study is described, that is the insurance business industry. This type of industry represents information intensive organizations. Next, the management of information resources is described from a resource-based approach point of view in order to find out how a company builds a successful knowledge-sharing environment. Based on that a four-step knowledge-sharing model is presented, and a number of case companies are analysed and mirrored into the model. As a part of the analysis the business success is also compared to the existing information cultures within the case companies to see if there is an indication that an emphasis on knowledge work really is worthwhile. Finally, the empirical insights are discussed to see how they support the suggested knowledge-sharing model.


Central Concepts

In the research question it is asked how the internal environment is built to support knowledge sharing. In order to answer this question it is important to define what knowledge sharing is. Also the internal environment of an organization may include many aspects and perspectives. In the following these concepts are defined and discussed.

Complete Chapter List

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Associate Editors
Table of Contents
Mehdi Khosrow-Pour
Chapter 1
Manuel Mora, Ovsei Gelman, Guisseppi Forgionne, Doncho Petkov, Jeimy Cano
A formal conceptualization of the original concept of system and related concepts—from the original systems approach movement—can facilitate the... Sample PDF
Integrating the Fragmented Pieces of IS Research Paradigms and Frameworks: A Systems Approach
Chapter 2
Steven Alter
The work system method was developed iteratively with the overarching goal of helping business professionals understand IT-reliant systems in... Sample PDF
Could the Work System Method Embrace Systems Concepts More Fully?
Chapter 3
Alfonso Reyes A.
This chapter is concerned with methodological issues. In particular, it addresses the question of how is it possible to align the design of... Sample PDF
The Distribution of a Management Control System in an Organization
Chapter 4
Phillip Dobson
This chapter seeks to address the dearth of practical examples of research in the area by proposing that critical realism be adopted as the... Sample PDF
Making the Case for Critical Realism: Examining the Implementation of Automated Performance Management Systems
Chapter 5
Jo Ann Lane
As organizations strive to expand system capabilities through the development of system-of-systems (SoS) architectures, they want to know “how much... Sample PDF
System-of-Systems Cost Estimation: Analysis of Lead System Integrator Engineering Activities
Chapter 6
Kosheek Sewchurran, Doncho Petkov
The chapter provides an action research account of formulating and applying a new business process modeling framework to a manufacturing processes... Sample PDF
Mixing Soft Systems Methodology and UML in Business Process Modeling
Chapter 7
Aidan Duane, Patrick Finnegan
An email system is a critical business tool and an essential part of organisational communication. Many organisations have experienced negative... Sample PDF
Managing E-Mail Systems: An Exploration of Electronic Monitoring and Control in Practice
Chapter 8
Stephen V. Stephenson, Andrew P. Sage
This chapter provides an overview of perspectives associated with information and knowledge resource management in systems engineering and systems... Sample PDF
Information and Knowledge Perspectives in Systems Engineering and Management for Innovation and Productivity through Enterprise Resource Planning
Chapter 9
Gunilla Widén-Wulff, Reima Suomi
This chapter works out a method on how information resources in organizations can be turned into a knowledge sharing (KS) information culture, which... Sample PDF
The Knowledge Sharing Model: Stressing the Importance of Social Ties and Capital
Chapter 10
Jijie Wang
Escalation is a serious management problem, and sunk costs are believed to be a key factor in promoting escalation behavior. While many laboratory... Sample PDF
A Meta-Analysis Comparing the Sunk Cost Effect for IT and Non-IT Projects
Chapter 11
Georgios N. Angelou
E-learning markets have been expanding very rapidly. As a result, the involved senior managers are increasingly being confronted with the need to... Sample PDF
E-Learning Business Risk Management with Real Options
Chapter 12
C. Ranganathan
Research on online shopping has taken three broad and divergent approaches viz, human-computer interaction, behavioral, and consumerist approaches... Sample PDF
Examining Online Purchase Intentions in B2C E-Commerce: Testing an Integrated Model
Chapter 13
Nicholas C. Georgantzas
This chapter combines disruptive innovation strategy (DIS) theory with the system dynamics (SD) modeling method. It presents a simulation model of... Sample PDF
Information Technology Industry Dynamics: Impact of Disruptive Innovation Strategy
Chapter 14
Shana L. Dardan, Ram L. Kumar, Antonis C. Stylianou
This study develops a diffusion model of customer-related IT (CRIT) based on stock market announcements of investments in those technologies.... Sample PDF
Modeling Customer-Related IT Diffusion
Chapter 15
Bassam Hasan, Jafar M. Ali
The acceptance and use of information technologies by target users remain a key issue in information systems (IS) research and practice. Building on... Sample PDF
The Impact of Computer Self-Efficacy and System Complexity on Acceptance of Information Technologies
Chapter 16
James Jiang, Gary Klein, Eric T.G. Wang
The skills held by information system professionals clearly impact the outcome of a project. However, the perceptions of just what skills are... Sample PDF
Determining User Satisfaction from the Gaps in Skill Expectations Between IS Employees and their Managers
Chapter 17
James Jiang, Gary Klein, Phil Beck, Eric T.G. Wang
To improve the performance of software projects, a number of practices are encouraged that serve to control certain risks in the development... Sample PDF
The Impact of Missing Skills on Learning and Project Performance
Chapter 18
Leigh Jin, Daniel Robey, Marie-Claude Boudreau
Open source software has rapidly become a popular area of study within the information systems research community. Most of the research conducted so... Sample PDF
Beyond Development: A Research Agenda for Investigating Open Source Software User Communities
Chapter 19
Milam Aiken, Linwu Gu, Jianfeng Wang
In the literature of electronic meetings, few studies have investigated the effects of topic-related variables on group processes. This chapter... Sample PDF
Electronic Meeting Topic Effects
Chapter 20
A. Durfee, A. Visa, H. Vanharanta, S. Schneberger, B. Back
Text documents are the most common means for exchanging formal knowledge among people. Text is a rich medium that can contain a vast range of... Sample PDF
Mining Text with the Prototype-Matching Method
Chapter 21
Francis Kofi Andoh-Baidoo, Elizabeth White Baker, Santa R. Susarapu, George M. Kasper
Using March and Smith’s taxonomy of information systems (IS) research activities and outputs and Newman’s method of pro forma abstracting, this... Sample PDF
A Review of IS Research Activities and Outputs Using Pro Forma Abstracts
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