HBR – Using What We Know: Turning Organizational Knowledge into Team Performance

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on January 17, 2011

Using What We Know: Turning Organizational Knowledge into Team Performance, Bradley R. Staats, Melissa A. Valentine, and Amy C. Edmondson. December 31, 2010

  • “This paper examines how teams draw on knowledge resources in the firm in the production of novel output. We theorize positive effects of team use of an organizational knowledge repository on two measures of team performance (quality and efficiency), and argue that these effects will be greater when teams face structural characteristics (team geographic dispersion and task change) that intensify the challenge of knowledge integration. Drawing on information processing theory, we distinguish between a team’s knowledge repository use and concentration of use (the extent to which use is limited to a few members versus more evenly distributed within the team). Using objective data from several hundred software development projects in an Indian software services firm, we find that knowledge repository use has a positive effect on project efficiency but not on project quality. Concentration of repository use, a form of within-team specialization, is negatively associated with project efficiency and positively related to project quality. Finally, as predicted, we find that in some cases the effects of both repository use and concentration of repository use are greater when teams are dispersed geographically or encounter changing tasks. Our findings offer insight for theory and practice into how organizational knowledge resources can improve knowledge workers’ productivity and help build organizational capability.”
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