The nature of knowledge and its influence on knowledge sharing practice: Experiences from building the MACROS system

Document Type

Conference Paper


This study investigates how the interactive influences of the nature of knowledge and multiple organizational and technological factors - trust, leadership, incentives and issues, group size and variety, implementation strategy, and technology - facilitated and/or impeded the knowledge sharing processes. Using a case study approach, the research focuses on the modifying effects of four characteristics of knowledge - codifiability, context-embeddedness, practice-embeddedness, and dynamics - on the processes and outcomes of knowledge sharing in a case of building the Multi-Purpose Access for Customer Relations & Operational Support (MACROS) System involving multiple organizations, divisions, and geographically separated offices. The case results suggest that modifying effects occurred along at least three dimensions - codifiability, context-embeddedness, and practice-embeddedness. The levels of codifiability appeared to dictate the implementation strategy; reduced context-embeddedness allowed for more effective group coordination; reduced context-embeddedness also enhanced trust; codified knowledge is more effective than uncodified knowledge in demonstrating concrete incentives; and technology interacts with contextembeddedness and practice-embeddedness. The results of this study have theoretical and practical implications for a larger set of problems encountered in sizable organizations. More specifically, even though the relevance of the nature of knowledge has been widely acknowledged (e.g., [1-3], it is not always clear how it comes into play. This study conceptualized the nature of knowledge as a modifying variable, and the results provide a new and more comprehensive framework for investigating the relevance of the nature of knowledge in knowledge management research.

Publication Title

Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences

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knowledge management