Effective Virtual Working through Communities of Practice

Effective Virtual Working through Communities of Practice

Chris Kimble (University of York, UK) and Feng Li (University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-770-6.ch125
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Abstract

Globalization is an issue currently affecting many organizations and is one that has profound consequences for the nature of work (Karimi & Konsynski, 1991; Ives & Jarvenpaa, 1992; Sachs, 1995). In order to work effectively in an international setting, companies are increasingly turning to trans-national teams (Castells, 1996; Lipnack & Stamps, 1997). In the new, networked economy, knowledge is seen as an asset that needs to be managed and is central to the success of organizations (Boersma & Stegwee, 1996). Since the 1980s, many organizations have taken steps to outsource and downsize in an effort to remain competitive (Davenport & Prusak, 1998; O’Dell, 1998). More recently, international outsourcing, often known as off-shoring, has been happening at a rapid pace in a growing range of activities and sectors. Outsourcing, off-shoring, downsizing and programs of planned redundancy all mean that, as people leave, they take with them a valuable stock of corporate knowledge. This can be knowledge of how the work is done in practice and domain knowledge (Sachs, 1995). Some knowledge is easy to replace, but the knowledge of how a company operates is built over years and is irreplaceable in the short term. In addition, many organizations now have to cope with the increasing internationalization of business that forces collaboration and knowledge-sharing across geographical boundaries. Working in a more internationalized setting places strains on the way a team operates, as they have to cope not only with geographical distance, but also time, culture and possibly language barriers. For such organizations, there is an urgent need to identify ways to work effectively in such groups.

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