Re: October 2007 SIKM Call: Kate Pugh and Nancy Dixon - Knowledge Harvest Facilitation #monthly-call #knowledge-transfer

Peter West


I agree that tacit knowledge can be strongly linked to identity and this can play an important role in knowledge transfer (and thank you for the interesting citation).

Tacit knowledge transfer can be a complex act involving many factors - identity being one, trust being another.

With regard to trust, you may be familiar with the work on:
a) competence-based and benevolence-based trust by Abrams, Cross and Lesser (e.g., one of many references: Nurturing Interpersonal Trust for Knowledge-Intensive Work)
b) process-based trust by Ford (e.g., Trust and Knowledge Management: The Seeds of Success)

A synthesis of the trust and knowledge literature would indicate that they are strongly linked.

I was curious as to whether you had explicitly considered/incorporated trust in your harvesting model/process.


nancymaydixon wrote:

Your question reminded me of a study I read sometime ago (Constant, D., Kiesler, S., Sproull, L. (1994) What's Mine Is Ours, or Is It? A study of attitudes about information sharing. Information Systems Research 5:4 400-421.) Constant found that people make a distinction between tangible knowledge, like a written document, and expertise or skill. They tend to view the document as a rightly belonging to the organization and thus readily share it. Whereas the individual knowledge learned through years of experience, they regrard as thier own -they saw it as closely tied to their identity and self worth. They were still willing to share this latter kind of knowledge, but only when they were sure it would be valued by the person they were sharing it with. Such knowledge was too closely tied to their own idendity to just put it out there for someone to devalue, or worse, to ignore.

I think something of the same may be going on with project knowledge. It may be that team members feel what is learned by the team, through project activity belongs to the organization and are therefore willing to have it harvested. Whereas the knowledge they have gained as an individual they safeguard from derision or disrespect.

So in answer to your question, a possiblity is that the issue is less about trust in the facilitator and more about how they think aobut the knowledge that others are seeking from them.

Any thought?


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