Technical Papers
Sep 11, 2017

Mechanisms to Initiate Knowledge-Sharing Connections in Communities of Practice

Publication: Journal of Construction Engineering and Management
Volume 143, Issue 11

Abstract

Within many construction and engineering organizations, communities of practice (CoPs) have become an important means for managing knowledge. They are employed to connect employees with technical specialists, which should reduce repeated mistakes, improve technical practice, and generate thought leadership. While organizations often implement CoPs as a means for coordinating specialist knowledge, very little is known about how professionals actually locate and connect with one another, making it difficult for organizations to employ CoPs effectively. To better understand how professionals identify and connect with colleagues, this research first conducted social network analysis to identify existing connections within three intraorganizational CoPs comprised of 1,791 members in two organizations, and then conducted and analyzed 77 interviews about dyadic connections to determine how individuals within these CoPs connected. From this analysis, four mechanisms of connection were identified, including organizational control, organizational opportunity, social networks, and non-person-centered searching. These connection mechanisms include a hybrid of social and organizational structures, reinforcing the need to strategically create and manage CoPs in project-based organizations. More specifically, these conclusions suggest that managerial control within CoPs is still an important mechanism to facilitate knowledge-sharing connections within distributed CoPs.

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Acknowledgments

This material is based, in part, upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Virtual Organizations as Sociotechnical Systems program under Grant No. 1122206. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Go to Journal of Construction Engineering and Management
Journal of Construction Engineering and Management
Volume 143Issue 11November 2017

History

Received: Nov 30, 2016
Accepted: May 31, 2017
Published online: Sep 11, 2017
Published in print: Nov 1, 2017
Discussion open until: Feb 11, 2018

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Authors

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John Wanberg, Ph.D.
Knowledge Strategy Manager, MWH Global, now part of Stantec, 380 Interlocken Crescent Suite 200, Broomfield, CO 80021.
Amy Javernick-Will, Ph.D., M.ASCE [email protected]
Associate Professor, Univ. of Colorado Boulder, 1111 Engineering Dr., ECOT 512, 428 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309 (corresponding author). E-mail: [email protected]
John E. Taylor, Ph.D., M.ASCE
Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology, Mason 4140c, 790 Atlantic Dr., Atlanta, GA 30332.

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