Improving the Effectiveness of Virtual Teams: Tackling Knowledge Management and Knowledge Sharing A real case scenario
Keywords:virtual teams, knowledge management, knowledge sharing systems, knowledge flow patterns
Globalisation has led to the development of new kinds of knowledge work and collaboration schemes. In globalised companies, virtual teams are a phenomenon of critical interest, and to understand the way they manage knowledge flows is becoming more relevant in terms of increased effectiveness, discoverability and reuse. The growing amount of available knowledge poses a challenge of many dimensions to innovative companies. This includes the evaluation their intangible assets that are an essential factor in many corporate initiatives. This research reports on the analysis of a real case scenario in the context of dynamic knowledge retrieval by using the Open plexus framework, a distributed knowledge sharing system that supports knowledge discovery and context-aware knowledge sharing in virtual teams by introducing a 3-tier knowledge sharing architecture. Each tier holds the knowledge of one of the following dimensions: individuals (the personal knowledge created by one knowledge worker), teams (she shared vocabulary and experience-based knowledge that is a result of team processes) and the organisation (the persistent knowledge of the organisational memory that is globally available). Based on a recent management tool, the Knowledge Path Method Model, the system starts recognising and eliminating stale knowledge in the project; thereby reducing the cognitive load of all the agents involved in the development of a new product. These findings allow eliminating the unnecessary interchange of knowledge flowing in the net of knowledge workers, optimising the time to market and increasing the quality and effectiveness of tasks. In addition, it is used to articulate team internal processes which help identifying the agents that are dispensable as members of a specific knowledge flow path. It helps adjusting the use of assigned resources and, simultaneously, identifying the virtual knowledge linked to the product's creation processes. Drawing broadly from our case study, the analysis reveals that Openplexus is able to help identify and monitor important knowledge paths and emergent knowledge flow patterns with their related contexts and thus improves the effectiveness of the employed knowledge worker. The findings have high implications for managers and Human Resources departments, as they can start measuring the traces relevant knowledge leaves in virtual teams.
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