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Understanding Information and Knowledge Flows as Network Processes in an Oil Company

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  • Laila Marouf

    ()
    (Department of Library and Information Science, Kuwait University, P.O. Box 2064, Safat 13021, Kuwait)

  • Patrick Doreian

    ()
    (Department of Sociology, 2602 WWPH, University of Pittsburgh, USA; Department of Informatics and Methodology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)

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    Abstract

    We focus on information and knowledge flows as social network processes in organisational contexts. Seeking and giving work-related information is distinguished from seeking and providing problem-solving help as knowledge flows. Hypotheses from the literature suggest that (perceived) accessibility, knowledge about the work-related skills of others, and knowledge about the functions that others perform in an organisation all predict knowledge and information flow relations. We also include membership in geographically dispersed work units as a feature of the formal organisational structure. As an additional predictive relation, non-work related socialisation is used to capture the informal structure. While all potentially predictive relations are significant and positively related to information and knowledge flows, once membership in work units and socialisation are included, the latter two relations are the dominant predictors. Perceived accessibility, at most, is a weak and inconsistent predictor of knowledge flows. Knowledge of work-related skills and the functions that others perform in an organisation also appear to have little relevance for seeking and providing knowledge. That work group membership and socialisation are the most potent predictors of knowledge and information flow relations suggests that these components of the formal and informal organisational structures operate in complementary ways. However, we note that this organisation may have a clear technical foundation that helps promote the effectiveness of both formal and informal organisational structures for promoting knowledge flows. This may be especially true for the studied managerial unit. In general, establishing the conditions under which the formal and informal organisational structures positively complement each other merits further attention. Some practical implications are outlined.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. in its journal Journal of Information & Knowledge Management.

    Volume (Year): 09 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 02 ()
    Pages: 105-118

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    Handle: RePEc:wsi:jikmxx:v:09:y:2010:i:02:p:105-118

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    Web page: http://www.worldscinet.com/jikm/jikm.shtml

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    Related research

    Keywords: Knowledge flows; network processes; oil company; work-related skills; social networks;

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