Knowledge collaboration in the ego-centered networks of professionals : the role of reciprocity, interpersonal trust, and transactive memory system : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Knowledge Management at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Prior research has shown that professionals maintain a network of contacts in their relevant professions and knowledge domains for information and knowledge collaboration. Where these networks are built around individuals and are informal in nature rather than arranged by organisations, they can be considered examples of egocentered (personal) knowledge networks (EGKNs). The role of informal networks (or EGKNs) of professionals is very important in knowledge-intensive sectors, where the access to relevant information and the ability to coordinate and combine expertise from diverse sources can make substantial difference to the performance of individuals and organisations. Research in knowledge management (KM) has yet to fully grasp the role of informal networks in individual learning and organisational performance. This thesis highlights the importance of EGKNs of professionals and investigates the process of knowledge coordination and collaboration through EGKNs, in the absence of formal structures and organisational mechanisms. Based on theories of social exchange, social capital, and transactive memory systems (TMS), a model is proposed to explain how informal knowledge cooperation develops in the EGKNs of professionals. A large-scale survey of professionals in New Zealand was carried out to empirically validate the model. Structural equation modelling (SEM) is the main statistical technique for testing the model and hypotheses associated with the model. The results indicate that EGKNs are structured by TMS that help to develop information and knowledge collaboration among socially connected individuals. This structure is based on network members’ understanding of the knowledge held by other members and the transactive processes to coordinate and integrate knowledge of network members. This study contributes to theory building in the area of social (informal) networks, KM, and TMS. A key contribution of this research is to offer a robust model to explain how informal knowledge collaboration is developed among socially connected individuals. The study provides a novel perspective by identifying the development of TMS in the EGKNs of professionals, where task interdependence and goal congruence cannot be assumed to exist. In addition, this study links social exchange theory and the relational dimension of social capital with TMS to explain the process of informal knowledge collaboration among socially connected individuals.
Knowledge management, Social aspects, Social capital, Ego-centred networks, Social exchange, Social capital, Transactive memory systems, Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Business and economics::Business studies