The socio-cultural challenge of effective knowledge management in virtual project environments

Doctorate other than PhD

Behrend, Frank D.. 2005. The socio-cultural challenge of effective knowledge management in virtual project environments. Doctorate other than PhD Doctor of Business Administration. University of Southern Queensland.

The socio-cultural challenge of effective knowledge management in virtual project environments

TypeDoctorate other than PhD
AuthorBehrend, Frank D.
SupervisorErwee, Ronel
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Business Administration
Number of Pages349

The growing popularity of inter-organisational alliances combined with a growing tendency to flatter organisational structures and globalisation, has accelerated the
need for firms to coordinate activities that span geographical, as well as organisational
boundaries utilising virtual project teams. This focus on virtual working environments evolved in parallel with another major trend, because over the last decade many
organisations have recognised the importance of managing their intangible assets.
Knowledge work is rapidly becoming the dominant type of work in the post-industrial economy and the ability to deliver knowledge leadership within challenging working environments like geographically dispersed knowledge teams will be one of key success factors in the future. Focusing on projects as one of the most common 'vehicle' for inter-organisational activities it will become increasingly important for the
involved organisations to take steps to capture and build on the learning that takes place during a project. However, there is limited empirical research from a knowledge perspective of managing multi-location project teams whose work is highly complex in nature and a membership mix of internally employed personnel as well as external
partners and/or other contract 'staff'. In this context the dissertation analyses the following question:
How do socio-cultural enabling conditions and network-related factors influence knowledge creation and exchange in virtual project teams?
The research issues which have been investigated target the aspects of trust, shared language and a common vocabulary, informal networks, boundaries and risk associated with uncontrolled (boundary-spanning) knowledge exchange. Based on its explanatory nature this research operates within the scientific paradigm of critical realism. A multi-method case study approach utilising different interview techniques in combination with social network analysis (SNA) has been used. Data collection involved six international case study settings comprising virtual project teams with mostly multi-cultural members from Europe, America, Australia, Africa and Asia.
Research participants included private, governmental and non-profit organisations from the IT, telecom, engineering, airline and environmental sectors. Additional systematic
input from an interdisciplinary mix of more than 29 knowledgeable business professionals and international academic informants has been incorporated in this study. [Snip] Based on the comprehensive repository of research findings, a tripartite conceptual framework has been developed. The framework builds both on a rational and a more
informal project dimension and describes the link between a collaborative and a content-focused lifecycle. It further defines a virtual project as socio-culturally networked system using quantifiable parameters and conceptualises an integrative approach focusing on knowledge representation and moderation. This new holistic model supports a deeper understanding of the complex, dynamic sharing processes in virtual project environments and provides a starting point regarding the optimisation of project guidelines and policies. Further, it might act as 'embryonic cell' fostering new and innovative perspectives focusing on knowledge management in virtual project teams.

Keywordsvirtual project team, knowledge management, informal networks, social network analysis, language, boundaries, risk, trust
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020350302. Business information management (incl. records, knowledge and intelligence)
350710. Organisational behaviour
Byline AffiliationsFaculty of Business
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Related outputs

Mapping knowledge flows in virtual teams with SNA
Behrend, Frank D. and Erwee, Ronel. 2009. "Mapping knowledge flows in virtual teams with SNA." Journal of Knowledge Management. 13 (4), pp. 99-114.
Using social network analysis to map information and knowledge flows in virtual project teams
Behrend, Frank D. and Erwee, Ronel. 2007. "Using social network analysis to map information and knowledge flows in virtual project teams." Rose, Elizabeth L. and Fisher, Greg (ed.) 2007 Australia and New Zealand International Business Academy Conference: Institutions and Organisations in an International Context (ANZIBA 2007). Newcastle, Australia 09 - 10 Nov 2007 Sydney, Australia.