Face-to-Face Interface in Software Development: Empirical Evidence from a Geographically Dispersed High-Tech Laboratory

Face-to-Face Interface in Software Development: Empirical Evidence from a Geographically Dispersed High-Tech Laboratory

Sajjad M. Jasimuddin
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/ijthi.2014010104
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The study investigates the power and potentials of face to face (F-2-F) conversation as a medium of knowledge exchange among software engineers in the context of a high-tech laboratory of a Fortune 100 corporation. This research is based on a qualitative case study design. A number of reasons underlying the preference for F-2-F interaction to transfer knowledge are identified. The analysis also provides evidence that software engineers also face difficulties in using F-2-F conversation as a medium of knowledge exchange. Such findings may be useful to managers and practitioners as the paper proposes an integrated approach where an organization can use both F-2-F and computer-mediated mechanisms simultaneously in a balanced manner.
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Literature Review

The knowledge transfer mechanism is the means by which knowledge is transmitted within and between organizations. Scholars, such as Hansen, Nohria, and Tierney (1999), and Jasimuddin and Zhang (2009), focus on the mechanisms and their influence on the knowledge transfer process. Broadly speaking, knowledge transfer in organizations can take place in two different ways: F-2-F and computer-mediated communication channels.

Martiny (1993) suggests that computer-mediated mechanism is an enabler rather than a driver of knowledge transfer efforts. Nandhakumar (1999) contends that computer-mediated mechanism has limited ability to facilitate a rich form of communication. In this regard, Daft and Lengel (1986) argue that F-2-F mechanism of knowledge transfer has the highest information richness. Most specifically, F-2-F contact is more suitable for the transfer of tacit knowledge. Lucas (2005) supports this, stating that while advances in computer-mediated systems have accelerated knowledge transfer, they can not replace personal interactions and the associated benefits through F-2-F conversation. Tone of voice, facial expression and gestures are missing in computer-mediated communication (Cramton, 2002). In this regard, Storper and Venables (2004) suggest that F-2-F conversation will remain central, despite the astonishing rise in the complexity and variety of information – verbal, visual, and symbolic- which can be communicated near instantly using technology.

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