Standing in Misunderstanding: Analyzing Boundary Objects’ Effectiveness in Innovation Communities

Title: Standing in Misunderstanding: Analyzing Boundary Objects’ Effectiveness in Innovation Communities

Authors: Marc Marheineke, Hagen Habicht

Abstract: In this paper we investigate the use of virtual objects for knowledge exchange in communities. Information systems provide a wide range of new (virtual) objects for community members which support non-canonical collaboration required for knowledge creation [4,23]. From a sociological perspective these objects are means to cross knowledge boundaries in communities [6]. In our study we extend this aspect by a technical perspective of how virtual objects effectively facilitate activities of knowledge creation. Media Synchronicity Theory [10] proposes how to best accomplish communication performance. It predicts that to achieve effective communication, the two primary communication strategies of conveyance of information and convergence on meaning need to be supported. Building upon this discussion, we examine the use of virtual objects in a dynamic process of knowledge creation. We will draw conclusions on how to appropriately use virtual objects for communication. Our empirical study is based on multiple cases [32] of knowledge communities. Qualitative data has been gathered from the participants of six focused group discussions conducted on a virtual whiteboard which comprises a media choice to interact in real time. The results detail information on the actual use (and not use) of virtual objects (media) for knowledge creation. Based on our findings we empirically confirm the core propositions of Media Synchronicity Theory. We conclude with managerial recommendations on how to employ virtual objects for increasing the effectiveness of dynamic processes of knowledge creation.

This contribution to OpenSym 2014 will be made available as part of the OpenSym 2014 proceedings on or after August 27, 2014.

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