Pentair-Nugent Associate Professor
Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
October 19, 2012
Speakman Hall 200, 1000am – 1130am
Seminar Title : Using Social Technologies to Learn “Who Knows What” and “Who Knows Whom” in the Organization
In most discussions of intra-organizational knowledge sharing, the words “search” and “transfer” are never far apart. Organizational theorists normally presume that before knowledge can be transferred, someone has to find where that knowledge resides through an active search process. I propose an alternative antecedent to knowledge transfer than search by developing the concept of ambient awareness. Through routine exposure to ambient communication – communications happening around us that we don’t partake in, but that we can eavesdrop upon – we begin to learn who knows what and who knows whom. By developing ambient awareness, we are ready, when the time comes to request a knowledge transfer to simply ask the right person for it or for access to it – we don’t first have to engage in lengthy procedures to search for it, nor do we have to maintain dual networks that support search and transfer simultaneously. I propose that the use of social media tools within organizations can overcome problems associated with the development of ambient awareness because they make messages transparent and networks visible. Through our exposure to these transparent messages and visible networks we develop an awareness of who knows whom and who knows what.