The use of Web 2.0 tools such as Blogs, Wikis, Social Networks, Tagging, RSS Feeds etc. within the organizational context is referred to as Enterprise 2.0, a term first coined by Prof. Andrew McAfee of MIT in 2006 in his classic paper Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration. He has since written a book on this subject titled Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges
Knowledge within a firm is considered as a resource that provides a great deal of competitive advantage. Therefore knowledge sharing between ‘knowledge workers’ is promoted especially in ‘knowledge intensive’ firms such as software companies. In fact the Enterprise Social Networking site Yammer is now widely used at the company I work for as well.
Some advantages of Enterprise 2.0 tools over traditional Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) are;
- Enterprise 2.0 tools do not impose any structure on how knowledge should be shared, users can share knowedge instantly in an ad-hoc manner with just about anybody
- Enterprise 2.0 tools do not require a strict process to share knowledge like most traditional KMS
- Enterprise 2.0 tools are fun and easy to use because Web 2.0 technologies provide a great user experience for the average computer user (thanks to Facebook, Twitter etc.)
The use of Enterprise 2.0 tools to share knowledge inside firms is also the focal point of my MBA research at University of Moratuwa. The study titled “The impact of Enterprise 2.0 tools on Knowledge Sharing practices in Sri Lankan Software Firms” looks at the characteristics of Enterprise 2.0 tools that may encourage knowledge sharing behavior. The scope of the study is limited to the Sri Lankan software industry due to time limitations but should be generalizable to many other knowledge based industries.
Having carried out a literature survey I have identified three main concepts which may affect knowledge sharing behavior. The three concepts are Trust, Perceived Cost and Perceived Rewards. The study basically looks at how the features of Enterprise 2.0 tools influences these concepts which in turn affects knowledge sharing behavior in the firm. The conceptual model for the study is shown below.
The basic idea is to prove that features of Enteprise 2.0 tools can help establish trust when sharing knowledge with others, lower the perceived cost of sharing knowledge and also enhance perceived rewards thereby positively affecting knowledge sharing behavior in the firm. These are known as hypotheses in research talk.
The research will be a quantitative one based on data gathered using a questionairre sent out to software engineers, QA engineers and business analysts et.al. of some major software firms in the country. The data gathered will be used to test the three hypotheses (corresponding to the three arrows) that are derived from the conceptual model above.
I hope to write more on the progress of my research in future blogs (fingers crossed!) 🙂