Purpose – For knowledge exchange systems to yield best organizational benefits, it is acknowledged that employees have to both contribute with and apply system content. This may be of particular importance in distributed environments due to limitations in alternative channels for knowledge exchange. This study investigates the effects of the gap between contribution and application on the degree of knowledge exchange within and between organizational borders and work locations. Design/methodology/approach – The study is based on survey data involving 2204 respondents from a large petroleum operator company and eight of its main contractors. Findings – An increase in the gap between contribution and application is accompanied with reduced levels of knowledge exchange between organizational borders and work locations, but has no effects on knowledge exchange between employees of the same organization working at the same location. This is explained by the availability of substitute channels for local knowledge exchange. Practical implications – Knowledge exchange systems research and practice have to focus on both knowledge contribution and knowledge application as fundamental processes, and should further consider organizational structure as an important factor. Originality/value – Most research on contribution and application of content in knowledge exchange systems focuses on knowledge exchange within company boundaries. This study systematically investigates the effects of the gap between contribution and application of system content at different levels of organizational distribution, and thus extends existing research by introducing organizational distribution as a conditioning variable for successful knowledge management.
Journal of Knowledge Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 7, 2014
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