Knowledge coordination via digital artefacts in highly dispersed teams

Yulin Fang, Derrick Neufeld, Xiaojie Zhang

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Abstract

Virtual teams face the unique challenge of coordinating their knowledge work across time, space, and people. Information technologies, and digital artefacts in particular, are essential to supporting coordination in highly dispersed teams, yet the extant literature is limited in explaining how such teams produce and reproduce digital artefacts for coordination. This paper describes a qualitative case study that examined the day-to-day practices of two highly dispersed virtual teams, with the initial conceptual lens informed by Carlile's (2004) knowledge management framework. Our observations suggest that knowledge coordination in these highly dispersed virtual teams involves the continuous production and reproduction of digital artefacts (which we refer to as technology practices) through three paired modes: ‘presenting-accessing’ (related to knowledge transfer); ‘representing-adding’ (related to knowledge translation); and ‘moulding-challenging’ (related to knowledge transformation). We also observed an unexpected fourth pair of technology practices, ‘withholding-ignoring,’ that had the effect of delaying certain knowledge coordination processes. Our findings contribute to both the knowledge coordination literature and the practical use of digital artefacts in virtual teams. Future research directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Systems Journal
Early online date13 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • boundary objects
  • digital artefacts
  • knowledge coordination
  • knowledge management
  • qualitative study
  • virtual teams

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