The concept of communities of practice has presented itself to be
extremely useful in helping us to understand how emergent groups of
practitioners indulge in effective knowledge sharing. Out of this
concept, this study develops a causal model that represents some
factors that are deemed to positively influence the
knowledge-sharing behaviour of a formal work group.
Out of the theory of communities of practice, three distinct factors that are deemed to affect knowledge sharing in project teams arise: degree of self-organisation, affection commitment towards the team and the intensity of a care culture inside the team. These factors give rise to six hypotheses on the influence on the endogenous constructs knowledge sharing and team effectiveness.
This causal model is then tested in a specific setting on highly innovative project teams in the fast-moving consumer goods sector. A sample of 108 respondents is used to test the proposed causal model using variance based structural equations modelling with the PLS method.
As a result of this study, the positive effect of a higher degree of self-organisation and care on knowledge sharing as well as effectiveness can be shown. However, the study shows that the construct of affective commitment towards the team has a negative effect on knowledge sharing. In effect, this means that a team can sustain a high level of knowledge sharing whilst its members are not emotionally attached to the team itself. Even though they still have to be capable of working under the conditions of self-organisation and be able to show a high care attitude towards their colleagues, such ill-committed team members are no hindrance for the overall performance of the team.
The result of this recognition is that it is favourable to support measures that increase a team’s ability to self-organise and, even more importantly, to foster a caring attitude of all team members towards each other. A focus on increasing the emotional attachment of a team member to a rather short lived structure, such as project teams seems to be less favourable.
Communities of Practice
|start of project||2006|
|end of project||2007|