Knowledge work across boundaries :inquiring into the processes of creating a shared context
Abstract (Summary)The problem area focused on in this thesis is knowledge work across boundaries and the processes of information exchange which lead to sharing, creation and use of knowledge and, thus, a shared context. The purpose of the thesis is to explore the management of these processes and which roles information and communication technology are given by the boundary-crossing groups. The relevance of this exploration is based on the importance of learning about knowledge integration in cross-functional projects, since our understanding of how knowledge is integrated within these groups remain limited. In order to inquire into the processes of boundary-crossing knowledge work and information exchange, an interpretative interview study, involving three groups working across knowledge boundaries, was performed. Moreover, the experiences of four student groups were explored. To be able to draw some conclusions from these processes, two models, the POM-model and the Ba- model, focusing on interaction and communication, were used as frameworks for the analysis. The thesis contributes to the existing knowledge of groups working across boundaries and the specific conditions of this, in relation to knowledge sharing, creation and use. Moreover, it makes more explicit the role ICT plays in these processes. Insights and understanding of the processes of creation of a shared context across boundaries give possibilities to more intentionally created conditions for knowledge work. This, in turn, gives support and enables knowledge sharing, creation and use in groups working across boundaries. The lessons learnt from the study are as follows. Different strategies have been used to handle the processes of knowledge creation, sharing and use. In this context I have found that a smaller group that focuses on a boundary object has come furthest in the creation of a shared context. Further, information exchange processes have been the ultimate source for creating the shared context and has been most effectively managed through a balance of physical, virtual and mental contexts. Hence, interplay between different contexts has enabled the groups to create a shared context. ICT has been used to a lesser extent, probably because of the complex nature of the task at hand. In relation to this, the groups argue that the fact that they work across knowledge boundaries has made face-to-face meetings more important. Finally, I have found that the two sense-making-models, used for analysis, complement each other in their respective shortcomings. They offer a potential for designing boundary-crossing knowledge work and its enabling and supporting systems in a holistic way, taking both social and technical aspects into account.
School:Luleå tekniska universitet
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication:01/01/2004