Use and Methods of Social Network Analysis in Knowledge Management

Use and Methods of Social Network Analysis in Knowledge Management

Tobias Muller-Prothmann
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-933-5.ch091
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Whilst the primary importance of informal communities of practice and knowledge networks in innovation and knowledge management is widely accepted (see Armbrecht et al., 2001; Brown & Duguid, 1991; Collinson & Gregson, 2003; Jain & Triandis, 1990; Lesser, 2001; Liyanage, Greenfied & Don, 1999; Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998; Nohria & Eccles, 1992; Wenger, 1999; Zanfei, 2000), there is less agreement on the most appropriate method for their empirical study and theoretical analysis. In this article it is argued that social network analysis (SNA) is a highly effective tool for the analysis of knowledge networks, as well as for the identification and implementation of practical methods in knowledge management and innovation. Social network analysis is a sociological method to undertake empirical analysis of the structural patterns of social relationships in networks (see, e.g., Scott, 1991; Wasserman & Faust, 1994; Wellman & Berkowitz, 1988). This article aims at demonstrating how it can be used to identify, visualize, and analyze the informal personal networks that exist within and between organizations according to structure, content, and context of knowledge flows. It will explore the benefits of social network analysis as a strategic tool on the example of expert localization and knowledge transfer, and also point to the limits of the method.

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