The micro-dynamics of knowledge development in multi-disciplinary work groups
Organisations, especially those with a business or commercial focus, have always had an interest in knowledge and learning whether they have used these terms to describe their internal processes or not. The acquisition and use of knowledge to create products and services has always been at the heart of any business venture, as has the development of the necessary skills and other actions within the workforce to deliver these products and services. It is only within the last twenty years that there has been any concerted effort to understand the processes that lead to the development of knowledge and that encourage and foster learning. This research examines the dynamics of knowledge development and its relation to learning in the team setting of one professional service company based in London. Using a grounded theory approach a detailed examination of the knowledge development activities in three teams is carried out, as they work on three projects with different external clients. Data is collected from the interaction of team members during set team meetings and from the way ideas are initiated and developed over the life of the project. This is supported by detailed examination of the business and organisational literature. The research provides insights into the way individual contributions to team discussions aid knowledge development as well as developing a picture of the nature of knowledge development - its dynamics and morphology. Detailed descriptions, models and visual representations are used to record the results of the research. The research as a whole has a methodology that is replicable and provides hypotheses that can be tested by other researchers. It also offers insights of value to those managers, consultants and other professionals involved in knowledge development in organisations.