The Role of E-Collaboration Systems in Knowledge Management

The Role of E-Collaboration Systems in Knowledge Management

Sharon A. Cox (Birmingham City University, UK) and John S. Perkins (Newman College of Higher Education, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-652-5.ch051


Since knowledge retrieval takes place at the interface between social interaction and technology (Gammelgaard & Ritter, 2005) successful systems of ecollaboration intended to manage knowledge involve the effective integration of both their technical and social components. Alongside technical developments, the standardisation of communication protocols has provided the realistic prospect of universal interconnection of businesses. The ubiquity of technology is not, however, reflected in the way that people, using the collaborative infrastructure, make sense of the data that emerges from the collaboration and go on to construct meaning from it. This is mediated not only by technology but by local culture, most explicitly represented by the recurrent activities that represent practice carried out by local communities of workers (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Brown & Duguid, 1996; Wenger, 1998). This interplay of technology, working practice, organisational structure and people traditionally lies at the heart of socio-technical systems (Leavitt, 1965) applied to leverage the skills of knowledge workers. This article examines the role and contribution of e-collaboration systems in inter-organizational knowledge management. The processes underlying this interplay are viewed from three perspectives: communication, collaborative practice and community, opportunities for the future development of e-collaboration systems are then proposed.

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