IT for Collaboration – Knowledge Management Systems

IT for Collaboration - Knowledge Management Systems

Our research has focused on knowledge management systems, or more generally, information technologies for collaboration.  Given the critical importance of collaboration in innovation activities, my research has focused on understanding how and why different types of technologies are more or less effective for collaboration and organizational learning.  Whereas our stream of research on open innovation examined how collaboration occurs naturally in a technology-enabled setting, this stream focuses more explicitly on collaboration through an information technology designed for collaboration (e.g., KMS).

Some of the research questions asked in this research stream are:

  • How do people share information and knowledge in a computer-mediated environment? 
  • Why do people share knowledge, especially with people with whom they have never had any prior relationships or face-to-face contact? 
  • Do aspects of the design of electronic communication technologies influence the patterns of communication interaction? 
  • If so, how and what aspects are most important in shaping behavioral patterns in communication and collaboration? 
  • Do different processes of communication interaction yield different outcomes in terms of knowledge sharing performance? 
  • How can (or should) we measure performance in a knowledge sharing context? 
  • How can we design communication/knowledge management technologies for more effective and efficient knowledge sharing? 

Theories in organizational behavior (e.g., organizational learning) and human-computer interaction (e.g., information richness theory and computer-mediated communication theory) are mainly used to investigate some of the above research questions. 

In terms of research methodology, a wide variety of research methodologies was used, including field studies involving qualitative interviews with knowledge managers accompanied with extensive longitudinal observation of communication data from various communication technologies (e.g., Usenet newsgroups and email distribution lists).  More recently, experiments in the laboratory setting, in the field, as well as via computational agent-based simulations have been conducted to empirically and theoretically study the dynamics of organizational collaboration and knowledge work.