Applying wikis to managing knowledge - A socio-technical approach

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Applying wikis to managing knowledge - A socio-technical approach is a 2007 journal article written in English by Kosonen M., Kianto A. and published in Proceedings of the European Conference on Knowledge Management, ECKM.

[edit] Abstract

As organizations are increasingly moving towards geographically dispersed and virtual forms of collaboration, knowledge sharing through social software such as wikis, is widely acknowledged as an important area of research and practice. Wikis are systems of interlinked Web pages that allow users to easily create and edit content. They represent an open-source technology for knowledge, focusing on its incremental creation and enhancement, and on multi-user participation. However, social software remains an under-investigated issue in the literature on knowledge management, and there are no previous studies demonstrating how organizations can successfully start using it. The influence of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on knowledge sharing has been approached mostly from the individual perspective, considering the roles of ICT in either lowering or heightening the cognitive barrier to sharing. Accordingly, ICT tools are mainly designed to support the acquisition and retrieval of codified knowledge in order to improve individual knowledge bases. Less has been written on supporting informal emergent knowledge sharing within communities through novel collaboration tools. In this paper we examine how internal wikis have been successfully implemented in a case organization. We chose an information-rich case, the type of single case that provides various opportunities for learning about an emerging phenomenon. On the basis of our analysis we claim that understanding the implementation of wikis requires a socio-technical perspective focusing on the organizational context and activity system in which they are implemented rather than on their technological proficiency per se. We thereby demonstrate how implementing wikis hinges on the practical and context-dependent features of the organization. Furthermore, we claim that their implementation brings about change in existing social systems, and results in new kinds of social constellations, interactions and identities, which are manageable and controllable only to a limited extent.

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