Facilitating knowledge transfer in virtual teams through a social network approach
Due to geographical dispersion and high use of information technology in virtual settings, face-to-face communication and therefore transfer of knowledge is made more difficult in virtual teams. Virtual teams (VT) are characterized by geographical dispersion, use of IT for communication, members have little history, members have organizational and cultural heterogeneity and members have lateral and weak relationships (Wong & Burton, 2000). We developed a theoretical framework with the use of one case study (a virtual team) description, in which a social network approach was applied in order to stimulate communication, and hence the transfer of knowledge concerning different knowledge areas. We found that by applying a social network approach and evaluating and re-using the data with the VT members the communication structure within the dispersed team became clearer. Furthermore, two types of knowledge transfer were stimulated: organizational knowledge transfer (how to organize a virtual team) and task knowledge transfer (how to solve a problem). Furthermore, it was found that the social context (trust and friendship) facilitated knowledge transfer.
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