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Membership Reconfiguration in Knowledge Networks for Removing Bottlenecks to Knowledge Sharing Activities

Membership Reconfiguration in Knowledge Networks for Removing Bottlenecks to Knowledge Sharing Activities
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One of the main objectives of this study is to provide organizational knowledge management teams with a new metric, the bottleneck impact score (BIS), a valuable tool for evaluating the structural health of communities of practice (CoPs) by detecting the seriousness and pervasiveness of the bottlenecks occurring in knowledge sharing activities among CoP members. This study also aims to propose a new approach that minimizes the negative impacts of structural barriers to knowledge sharing in the current of knowledge sharing networks by dynamically reconfiguring CoP memberships. Our data analysis of the knowledge sharing activities of 4,414 members from 59 CoPs within one of the largest steel manufacturing companies finds that few CoPs are active in both knowledge creating and consuming and that most CoPs suffer from the insufficient participation of their most experienced employees and experts and hence are vulnerable to master-apprenticeship and knowledge drain risks. More importantly, our analysis confirms that the proposed BIS metric successfully quantifies the seriousness and pervasiveness of such structural risks and thus can help management teams take preventive action to reduce the identified structural risks. Finally, we develop several propositions to determine source CoPs, destination CoPs, rearrangement candidates, and recipient candidates to regulate the process of reconfiguring collaboration networks of source CoPs and reconstructing networks of destination CoPs after reallocating members from source CoPs to destination CoPs. To test the validity and usefulness of the proposed approach, we simulate reconfiguration strategies. Our experimental results confirm that the proposed approach effectively decreases potential threats to collaboration among CoP members and improves the structural healthiness of knowledge sharing networks of departments and organization. In particular, the numbers of knowledge sharing and creating CoPs are significantly increased while the number of inactive CoPs is decreased. We attribute this finding to the fact that both experts and non-experts members are more evenly distributed across CoPs through rearrangement and these experts with light collaboration burden post their knowledge and practical skills to help non-experts in their CoPs.
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