Organising knowledge sharing in a dispersed organisation : a socio-technical perspective
Knowledge has been identified as one of the most important resources that contribute to the competitive advantage of an organisation. The organisational and social issues associated with the development, implementation and use of information technology have increasingly attracted the attention of knowledge management researchers. This study is based on an empirical investigation of knowledge sharing processes from a dispersed international organisation, Buckman Laboratories. Through a socio-technical perspective, this research traces the interactions between knowledge sharing practices and the organisational context. The conditions surrounding the organisation of knowledge sharing as an organisational practice are addressed in the case presented in the dissertation. In particular, the research has closely examined knowledge management initiatives during the period of 1992-1998 implemented by Buckman Laboratories, focusing on the issues of organising knowledge sharing processes. The research traces Buckman Laboratories' experience as a networked, global company organised as a set of linked knowledge-focused communities of practice. Based on the findings of a case study of one unique knowledge-intensive organisation, the research presents a model of organising knowledge sharing. It develops a sociotechnical perspective to grounded field data and suggests that the experience of this organisation can be considered as a particular form of knowledge management - one that utilises various mechanisms for leveraging knowledge sharing towards sustainable competitive advantage. The study concludes that enabling, integrating and co-ordinating mechanisms play a critical role in establishing the multi-level context for the effective assimilation of knowledge sharing practice.