Social Networks and Organizational Performance: Exploring the Quality of Domain Knowledge Sources

Social Networks and Organizational Performance: Exploring the Quality of Domain Knowledge Sources

Pamela Schmidt (Washburn University, Topeka, KS, USA), Sharath Sasidharan (Emporia State University, Emporia, KS, USA) and Ronald Freeze (Emporia State University, Emporia, KS, USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/ijkm.2013070104
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Abstract

For sustained performance in a dynamic market environment, individuals within an organization must operate in a social network (SN) that promotes knowledge exchanges, encourages knowledge acquisition, and facilitates dissemination of domain knowledge pertinent to the execution of job-related tasks. Research on Knowledge Social Networks (KSN) has hitherto focused on interpersonal social network structures and its impact on knowledge outcomes with little attention being paid to the quality of domain knowledge possessed by knowledge sources and the value of resultant knowledge flows. This paper evaluates the quality of knowledge sources used in the social network by robustly measuring knowledge structures, the underlying foundation of conceptual knowledge. A field study of a simulated market environment with competing organizations found the KSN to be central in explaining organizational performance. However, its interplay with the domain knowledge structure of knowledge sources provided deeper insights into its link with organizational success.
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2. Social Network Structures And Knowledge Outcomes

SN analysis focuses on relationships between individuals. Every individual is viewed as a node and the relationship between individuals are treated as a tie. Figure 1a depicts a network of five individuals (A, B, C, D, and E) and the ties between them. While the node in Figure 1a represents an individual, it is also possible to treat the node as a group or an organization, in which case the ties would relate to inter-group or inter-organizational interactions. The nature of the ties could be varied; research has examined ties relating to friendship, communication, information, workflow, knowledge, advice etc. (Brass, 1995).

Figure 1.

(a) Low density, (b) high density

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