About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Defining Design and Design's Role in Distributed Groups

I thought I had posted about this topic, which was actually an important idea that had to be cut from my dissertation. However, Colin Gray's current research on design and innovation resonates with the findings that design is a social construct rooted in multiple cultures within distributed groups. He speaks of the disruption of thought which is something that distributed groups do when they negotiate meaning.

Design is the application of power structure values and work patterns to genres. As a result, design becomes the processes by which genres are created, embedded in the organizational cultures, and aligned with organizational vision. Buchanan ( 1992) distinguishes between categories and placement of design.

Categories consist of fixed meanings that allow us to understand and analyze existing knowledge. These categories can fall into four forms: symbolic and visual communication, material objects, activities and organized services; and complex systems and environments. These types of categories represent the intention of “signs, things, action, and thoughts” (Buchanan, p.12) based on the understanding and analysis of perceived knowledge. In other words, design is the result of analyzing a situation, applying concepts based on experience and perception of what works and does not work, and developing a plan the creates boundaries within which individuals and workers have the intent to work.

A more important aspect of design, however, is placement. While categories imply a static structure analyzing “what already exists” (Buchanan, 1994, p. 13) , design is a reflection of the dynamic environment in which a plan must be implemented.
Placements have boundaries to shape and constrain meaning, but are not rigidly fixed and determinate. The boundary of a placement gives a context or orientation to thinking, but the application to a specific situation can generate a new perception of that situation and, hence a new possibility to be tested. Therefore, placements are sources of new ideas and possibilities when applied to problems in concrete circumstances. (Buchanan, p. 13)

In other words, design is the result of analyzing existing structures, but also helps in the creation of new meaning and understanding as designs are situated differently. The success of a design is based on environmental factors, intention (including the degree of agency granted to those implementing the design), and boundaries setting the orientation to thinking.

Study Findings

After the first series of interviews, I noticed that many of the participants used the term design, but each in a slightly different way. As a result, a definition of design was included in the second interview. In fact, the definition of design had very little in common from speaker to speaker. In addition, it seemed the most difficult term for the participants to define, most having long pauses before they answered.

Those from the stand-up training department tended to perceive design as a definitive construct using terms such as “strategies”, “content”, “framework”, and “curriculum.” For those in the elearning department, design was a more situated term to define, grounded in the creative and meaning making process. For example, “Design is the…planful…elegance and pattern…which gives…definition and meaning.” Not only is there some situated aspect to design, but those in the elearning department identified a sense of agency in their definitions.

Such a divergence in the understanding of what design is could lead to differences in understanding during the creation of a collaborative document, especially when there is no structure to the document, such as the Project Map. The first writing project, using a clearly defined structure was, “Well, the quarterly report’s always a by-product of individual contributions.” On the other hand, the second collaborative project studied was a document created by the group to help identify the various aspects of the elearning project. In discussing this document in a group interview, the difficulty in creating an agreed upon product was obvious:

Well, what formally…I think the … for the classroom trainers, they have a document. Module 1 contains X number of elements. Module 2 contains X number of elements. Eh…for me, there’s a sort of isomorphic mapping of those content elements onto a schema that reflects those same strains and tho…and that same order.


P: There’s a certain way to do that in the classroom. So, um… I think that’s…I don’t know if you can…say right now what your product is going to be. It’s going to be some type of elearning product.
R: Right. I mean…
P: But what it’s going to look like and how it’s…how it’s going to work is not…really isn’t there yet.
R: It isn’t really there... I mean, we have an idea…

Those in the stand-up training department seemed to perceive design in what Buchanan (1992) refers to as the categories of design: “Categories have fixed meanings that are accepted within the framework of a theory or a philosophy, and serve as the basis for analyzing what already exist (p. 12).” The elearning department looked at the possibilities of design, however. This is what Buchanan refers to as placement of design. “Placements have boundaries to shape and constrain meaning, but are not rigidly fixed and determinate. The boundary of a placement gives a context or orientation to thinking, but the application to a specific situation can generate a new perception of that situation and, hence, a new possibility to be tested. Therefore, placements are sources of new ideas and possibilities when applied to problems in concrete circumstances (p. 13).”

It appears that coming to the collaborative writing process from these two different approaches affects the knowledge creation and collaborative process. In the one instance, categories, the design is part of tangible knowledge: artifacts, clearly defined processes and skills. In the second instance of placement, design requires spatial knowledge, or the ability to link ideas and construct or create knowledge by building new ideas and theories. The categories of design, then, use knowledge that can be identified or represented tangibly (i.e. diagrams, processes, symbols, formats) whereas the placement of design requires environmental, social, and cognitive interaction to create knowledge networks where externally held knowledge can be accessed when needed. During the collaborative process within this distributed group, the different approaches in design resulted in tensions due to different expectations.

Collaborative Design:

Fundamentally, design is always done in the context of a group. Collaborative design gives ownership of the process and product to the group. However, design does more than develop a shared process and product. Collaborative design creates a shared mental model and understanding of the work task, identifies group member strengths, weaknesses, resources, and knowledge networks, and develops social relationships within the group. It also gives access to group member knowledge networks and group members that can translate knowledge from outside of the group so that it has meaning for the group. Design becomes both the categories (schemata, paradigms, values and perspectives) and the placement (possibilities) in the application of group knowledge (Buchanan, 1994; Goodwin, 1994; Nonaka, 1994).

To maximize partaged knowledge within the group, distributed groups need to have time to design collaboratively on a continual basis. It is important that group members have a mechanism to continually align perspectives and understand group members’ knowledge networks as these networks redevelop.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Creating the felt for the velcro to stick

I believe that colleges create a felt upon which the velcro of future learning can adhere. In other words, schooling should prepare students to be receptacle to learning from new environments, interactions, information, and experience. Like felt, new ideas will "stick" best to younger learners who have more room in their developing brains. However, as we age, the felt becomes crowded with knowledge we have accumulated. Older learners may need to change their thinking (lift the velcro from the felt) which can be difficult. In addition, like velcro, there will always be a bit of the felt that stays behind and makes it difficult for new information to stick.

So what is the "felt" of education that we should developing in education and training?

1) Learning is lifelong and does not stop with formal education. Even now my kids talk about how they look forward to getting out of school and never having to learn again. We need to start at an early age acculturating students with the idea that learning is lifelong and will never stop.

2) In a recent article in Thought & Action, Chad Hanson identified 4 area that businesses could learn from colleges and universities: innovation, structure/tradition, diverse lines of inquiry, and social relations. These are good places to start in creating a citizen that will be flexible enough to retool/relearn and be productive in a knowledge society.

Colleges and universities should prepare students to look beyond what is to what can be. Unfortunately, many businesses say they want an innovative employee, yet are looking for skills to answer just-in-time needs of the company. This tension can be resolved by identifying the parameters of a field, but at the same time, helping to push the parameters past current culture. In other words, it is not enough to teach students within a structure of current discipline or business structures, there must also be the push beyond what is known to what can be.

This is where the diverse lines of inquiry come in. Students must understand how to move between disciplines. The liberal arts education pushes students to work with different vocabulary, different knowledge bases, different rhetoric, epistemologies, and forms of inquiry which will develop them into employees that can move between departments, cultures, and work environments. My own research confirms that the most successful members of distributed groups were those that were able to move between and within groups. Their expertise in accessing resources, translating them for others, and bringing that knowledge back to their departments made them invaluable.

The social networking by employees are only one aspect of of social relations. Living with a diverse population, working with those of varying abilities, and understanding the way a community works are all skills colleges develop which can be brought into the workplace.

3) Colleges and universities require students to learn things that may not make much sense to a student today, but which may be important for future environments. I think, for example, of the economics class I took, which did not make sense until I was in the working world. The content was not as important as the theoretical basis upon which the content (which has changed in the 30 years since I took the course) was based. The same is true of computer science, which was in its infancy when I studied it. Many of the models and basic understanding of programming remains the same, although the languages I learned are no longer used.

While some people complain that colleges are too theoretical, students without that theoretical underpinning cannot keep up with changes in the field, the environment, tools, and knowledge. These theories make the felt of learning flexible and strong, allowing for change and the ability for learning to stick.

Learning in the future

In order be successful, our educational system needs to create life long learners, who are flexible, able to see possibilities, understand the social structure of knowledge (including transactional and negotiate knowledge), able to access resources though social networks they have created (partaged knowledge), be able to move between disciplines, learning the language and rhetorics of those disciplines, and, most importantly, develop a positive attitude towards lifelong learning and self-regulated learning.

To accomplish this, the educational system, especially undergraduate education, needs to continue to require students to have a liberal arts basis so students can develop knowledge within the context of multiple disciplines. They must also develop problem solving skills, communication competencies,technology/digital literacies, and critical reading/thinking skills. This needs to be accomplished through exposure to multiple environments and unstructured problems (e.g. project based learning). The focus needs to move from content to either content within context or skill based learning.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The history of training in US companies

The role of education and training in the US correlates to the management practices that have developed over the last century.

In an agricultural economy, labor was divided into small individual pieces. Knowledge of work practices were passed down from expert to novice through the apprenticeship. In the US, the labor movement developed apprenticeships so that the burden of training in a Union shop was carried mostly by the union.

After WWII, however, college education through the GI bill made university affordable to those who would not have been able to attend college before. In addition, technology and the depression made business more mobile and workers were expected to leave their home towns to work in massive manufacturing plants. The need for educated managers created a system in which college educated employees who had skills in reading, writing, computation, critical thinking, problem solving, technology, synthesizing information, and communication were trained throughout the manufacturing process. There are still these management training type of programs in large multinational companies. The key to these programs to develop a generalist that can step into any plant/situation/field and manage. Today, many of these management training programs require a Master degree as the basic skills, especially in critical thinking, synthesizing information and problem solving, are not integrated into the college curriculum until the Master's level.

There was a two prong system, the on-the-job training from the unions and the management training from the corporation. However, as manufacturing became more specialized, more specialized training was needed. This required a higher level of expertise and investment than companies were willing to contribute. At the same time, in the 1970's and 1980's, there was a new model of business developing in which employees were expendable. An employee that did not contribute to the corporation was laid off. In addition, corporations used outside contingent labor to augment their cyclical labor needs. This meant that the burden of training shifted on to the employees. Unions looked to community colleges to train their workers and individual employees looked to the colleges to train them for specialized jobs.

During this time, higher education changed. Majors became more specialized, training a student for a future job. If a student was not able to be employed after receiving a college education, the college was blamed. As a result, college programs, especially those in business and technology, worked closely with businesses in developing specialized curriculums. This was fine when companies were looking for specialists. However, the economy changed in the 1990's with the advent of the internet.

In the 1990's knowledge based companies began to take over the economy, with companies requiring more efficiency and cross training. Teams replaced specialists so that more could be done with less resources. Individuals were expected to be able to learn multiple tasks outside of their specialties. In order to address the training needs, companies developed training departments that worked with traditional and in the 2000's, online methods. The training was perpetual, but specialized training was the responsibility of the individual, usually. This was because companies did not want to invest in an employee's training only to have the employee leave.

On the part of the universities, this was a change in the nature and culture of the university. First, the average student now could include those returning to college after years of experience. No longer was there a clear cut divide between "continuing education" and "day classes". In addition, there was a demand from the students to provide specialized courses they needed to get ahead in their career, which companies were no longer interested in investing.

This brings us up to the current state of training and education. Companies are still expecting colleges and universities to provide the specialized training to students that companies need at any given time. However, I know in my own career, over the last 4 years, my computer mediated communication class has changed drastically in terms of the content I have taught. Four years ago I taught about two and multiple communication. Now I teach about networking. Four years ago I taught about visuals using powerpoint on flickr. Now I teach about video conferencing, video production, interactive visuals, etc... A student who took my course 4 years ago is already irrelevant if all I had taught was content. However, even 4 years ago we were discussing the changes happening because of facebook and linkedin. I taught my students how to teach themselves about new technology and its uses. I focused on technology affordances and the impact of technology. I taught them how to observe trends, generalize best practices, reflect on their work and how to make it better, research new trends, implement new practices, and evaluate and correct those new practices. These are life long learning skills that will allow them to be successful throughout their careers.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Unemployment, training, and education

I watched an episode of Moyers & Company yesterday in which the Conservative Expert divided the US into three types of people, those with a university education who were successful, those that were poor and dependent upon the "welfare state", and the "middle class" with a high school diploma who were loosing ground in our economy. He repeated the often heard call to education in Science and Technology as we had openings in the US for these jobs that companies could not fill.

Looking at data from the Department of Labor, however, from 1974-2010, those with an associate's degree and "some college education" came out better in some demographics when it came to number of times they were unemployed. Specifically, Hispanics and white males had less unemployment spells with an associate's degree than with a college education. In fact, according to Allegretto & Lynch (2010), the labor force with only or without a high school diploma has shrunk since 1983* and the percent of the long-term unemployed who fit in this category is less than in the most recent recession. In fact, unemployment rates increased for those with some college or at least a bachelor's degree.

In addition to education that does not match the conservative profile, is the disregard for another major change in the characteristics in the long-term unemployed profile: age. While unemployment is high for the 16-24 year old age group, according to Allegretto and Lynch, this age group is able to find a job faster than those over 45 yrs old. In my mind, there can only be one explanation for this: salary.

With these statistics about unemployment, education, and age, therefore, we must reconsider our policies about training, education, and the unemployment rate. Namely, training for a specific job will not make employment decrease. It is no longer enough to require someone to get a college education or to educate our workforce. Rather, there needs to be some changes to the way corporations hire and train their workforce. With an integrated approach with educational institutions combining both theoretical with practical training/education, we should be able to have a workforce that can be continually trained/updated, but also have the creativity upon which the US successfully expanded into the information economy.

Interestingly enough, the US stopped collecting data on workplace training in 1995. This means very little is known in terms of what training or knowledge assessment companies do today. To understand, however, how our children should be educated to be successful in the knowledge economy, it is important to understand the past and current role of education and training in the US economy.

Tomorrow: The history of training in US companies
Friday: Creating the felt for the velcro to stick

*Allegretto and Lynch looked at long-term unemployment during the last four recessions.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The first responders: Firemen, Police, and Teachers

As Hurricane Sandy hits the Northeast, we have to give credit to Firemen, Police, and the thousands of rescue workers that put their life on the line to save people. However, for those in areas not directly hit, we also have to thank the Teachers who handle students and parent fears and the aftermath of a crisis.

I am fortunate in that we came through the storms unscathed. I live in the Hudson Valley, between two mountain ranges. Often with Nor'esters, the wind is so strong, it jumps the mountains, missing the valleys. This is what happened last night as we could hear the wind high above (it sounded like a night of airplanes landing), but we were too low for the wind to hit us. This was not so a few miles (and hundred feet) up the road from us.

As I prepare for my class today, I also know that the majority of my students will be directly impacted from the storm. Many are from Long Island, NY City (including Staten Island), and Westchester County. So as I plan for class, I also plan for students distracted with worry and concern over friends and family. So one thing I can do for all those parents dealing with the aftermath of the storm is to make sure they don't have to worry about their kids away at school.

Monday, July 30, 2012

NBC's censoring of the Olympics: Social media and lost opportunities

Let me begin by stating I am a big fan of the Olympics. Overall, NBC, the American television corporation with rights to broadcasting the Olympics, with one exception, has done a pretty good job of covering the games on its free, open access station. They have included a wide variety of sports in all day (more or less)coverage.

However, they have really missed the boat on their social media/online coverage, which could have real repercussions from fans in the future. It also points out how ignorant the corporation is about social media and the "new" media the it purports makes this the first "social media" Olympics.

My history with the Olympics

As a child, I remember waking up early in the morning or in the middle of the night to watch the first "live" satellite broadcasted Olympics. Living only 90 miles from Lake Placid, the winter Olympics were always followed closely in my family. Then the Broadcasters learned that they could get better viewing numbers (and thus higher advertising rates) if they saved the most popular events until primetime (7-11PM). Soon, only certain events were available for viewing. This was the first line of censureship by American broadcasters of the Olympics. Only events in which American won were shown. There was a general outcry as fans of a certain sport in which there was popularity and good representation by the US (e.g. hockey, bobsledding, equestrian)were not shown unless there was a win. Viewership of the Olympics fell.

During the Atlanta Olympics, sametime coverage was extended and the networks learned that they could develop fans for lesser known sports. I remember watching the equestrian field jumping one afternoon and became entranced (as did others, which I learned later). Broadcasters learned that there was a market during the day, especially for the summer Olympics.

For the China Olympics, I finally had access to high speed internet which allowed me to view streaming video. The Olympics became even more exciting as I was able to watch video (some of it raw footage) on little known sports that the general population might not be interested in (i.e. fencing, rowing, white water canoing/kayaking) and some better known sports that might not be widely watched in the US (i.e. soccer). It was wonderful being able to access footage not shown on the TV, but watching primetime for the major sports.

By the winter Olympics in Vancouver, however, things had changed. I was no longer able to go to the NBC site to view the Olympics. In addition, NBC had migrated some of the events I was interested in on to their cable channels. I was not willing to pay $1200 a year for cable (in which I have very little interest as I do not watch much TV for the most part during the year, and we live on a limited budget). A new form of network censureship took over in which I was limited in watching only those sports the network deemed as important and I was limited in accessing information via the internet. I was able to find some footage on YouTube and NBC did post footage 24 hours later. I could understand the network wanting to get as much viewership as possible via television to ensure maximizing advertising profits.

Speed forward to this year. I was so excited when I heard NBC had a special app to view the Olympics on mobile technology. Then I went to the NBC Olympics home page and discovered that not only could I not watch the Olympics live, but the only video available was "highlights" (fluff pieces and edited versions of the live video). According to the NBC Olympics site:

Q: What is required for accessing Live Extra content?
A: You will need to verify that you subscribe to a cable, satellite or telco video tier that includes CNBC and MSNBC. There is no additional charge.
Q: Is account verification required for accessing video other than live streams?
A: Yes, but only full-event replays (e.g. an entire basketball game) within 48 hours of an event’s conclusion. You will NOT need to verify your TV subscription to view the extensive collection of competition highlights, interviews, athlete profiles, etc., available on NBCOlympics.com.

Q: Can I access live streams anywhere other than NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Olympics Live Extra App without verifying?
A: No. Olympic video will not be available to U.S. viewers on other websites or Apps.

In other words, NBC has put a block on all Olympic video so that countries in Africa and Asia have more internet access to the Olympics than in the US (unless you pay for your television through cable).

Why is this bad?

While I understand the marketing decisions NBC made due to income from cable companies (trying to get their numbers up so they can charge cable companies higher viewership fees), NBC does not understand that viewers without cable are now frustrated and do not want to watch the Olympics. Cable companies and production companies have learned that viewers want alternatives and individualization (viewing on demand) in their viewing habits. They don't want to be forced to view on cable or nothing at all (viewers that access televisions through DSL are also blocked from videos on the NBC site).

I am surprised that NBC has been allowed to have such a monopoly in which all information is limited to what NBC allows out. One exception is twitter. I have been able to access images and information from twitter. However, I'd like to access video. I feel such resentment towards NBC, that I would NEVER get cable as I don't like being blackmailed into something. Interestingly enough, looking at the schedule, CNBC and MSNBC don't really carry very much of the Olympics. So this is just a way of using the Olympics to blackmail viewers into getting these TV stations.

While we complain about other governments blocking content that is unacceptable for the population to access, we allow corporations to do the same thing. Only filtered information is available about the Olympics. This makes me wonder what other aspects of broadcasting will begin to become filtered. What if NYSE were to come to an agreement with a broadcaster that NYSE information could only be available through cable? This means that a certain group in the population (those that don't have cable or access to cable) would always be excluded. This gives new meaning to the digital divide.

A missed opportunity

On the part of NBC, I feel that in their wish to control all aspects of information about the Olympics demonstrates their lack of understanding about power of the internet and mobile technology. One of the most amusing, yet disturbing, examples was their attempt to integrate social media into their broadcast (no doubt trying to emulate ABC's Good Afternoon America and Live with Kelly's success).

NBC assumes that all who do not subscribe to cable also do not have mobile technology. Their "bait and switch" tactics in advertising that they had an app in which people could access live streaming did not add that you needed to have cable television subscription with CNBC and MSNBC in order to use the app. They lost out on a large potential income stream by not selling the app for use by those who did not have a cable subscription. I know of many who would have paid for it.

The webpage for the NBC Olympics really needs improvement. It is very difficult to navigate and find out information (other than the fact that really you can't use it unless you subscribe to CNBC and MSNBC). Finally, the Today show is not taking advantage of the games to the best of its ability. I was very disappointed this morning (and have decided I will do all my work from 7-10 when the Today show airs in my area) at the content. I was not interested in the calories food in England have or the fashions of England. I did want to see the entire skeet shooting competition in which the American winner shot 99/100 and set an Olympic record for most consecutive gold metals in the summer Olympics. At that point, the interview (which was good) could take place. The Today show could be a tease for the evening tape delayed events (i.e. showing tape delayed or live qualifying events so those watching in the evening would want to see how it ended).

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Archaeology of Knowledge

This week I received unwelcome news AGAIN from google. For about 3 years, I have used igoogle as my homepage to keep track of email, blogs I follow, and tools for weather and translation. It is nice because I can see in a glance all internet activity I'm interested in when I sign on the the internet. However, this week a notice popped up that igoogle will go away as of November.

This happened before with google's webpage program. I was able to create my own webpage, but they discontinued the product two years ago. This got me to thinking about what happens to our electronic footprint and the knowledge we store in it.

Transparency and Storage of Knowledge

Today, archaeologists try to decipher the knowledge embedded on material objects thousands of years later. There is still records in caves and carvings, although the knowledge behind those records have been lost. The question for archaeology is can we retrieve that lost knowledge without an understanding of the context in which the records were created? While we may have lost the contexts, there are still clues that archaeologists and anthropologists can put together to try to understand the contexts in which these records of knowledge were created. These artifacts have survived the elements, destruction, civilizations, and politics.

However, advances in technology (caves to paper to electronics) have meant increasing parishibility of knowledge. Records from the middle ages are written on paper that disintegrates as time goes on. While knowledge was able to be disseminated to a wider audience (it's hard to carry a cave around), it also means that the permanence (in the form of a permanent record) decreased. Now as we come to the electronic age, knowledge creation becomes more transparent, but the storage of this is threatened. In the short term, an individual's foibles and mistakes are open to the world (i.e., facebook timeline, twitter, even blog comments). In the long run, however, as technology changes, so does access to records of knowledge. How many of you have information on floppy disks that you are unable to access now because there are no machines to read the floppies?

How will those in the Future Know who we are?

Which brings me back to my question as to what will happen to all of the knowledge we built through the electronic ages? Will those in the future know about our civilization by looking at our buildings? What other means do we have for a permanent record of our knowledge that can be passed down from generation to generation? As more knowledge is disseminated (outside of the context in which it was created) and made more universal, will be become a more closed civilization that those in the future will not be able to understand? Is it possible that those civilizations that we think we know may have had knowledge (most likely passed down through oral traditions) what will forever be lost to use, yet at the time were universal truths?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Ethics of Higher Ed Marketing in the US

As I start looking for colleges/universities for my daughter in the US this year, I'm much more savvy about how US colleges/universities market themselves. My son, a 2 year student at Penn State, went through this last year. As a student/professor for 20 years at US colleges, I went into his higher ed search a bit cocky. After all, I knew what I was looking for in a student, I knew what my student profiles were in multiple departments, I understood the system for college credit transfer, financial aid, housing. But I was shocked when I got sucked into the higher ed marketing that goes on in the US.

First, there is the number of marketing brochures, emails, and personal phone calls a student receives. My son did very well on his SAT's (Standardized college entrance exams), even better on his AP exams (Advanced Placement standardized tests), and outstanding on his SAT II (or subject matter tests). His PSAT's that he took his second year in high school were also very good.

We knew he did well on these tests which placed him on schools' radar. However, what we didn't know (but we know now) is that most of the marketing was for those that placed above 50% on the SAT's. Schools also looked at the profiles (curriculum, ethnicity, etc...). We were very surprised when he received recruiting information from ivy league schools as we had never expected he could get into them (which in fact he could not). He was bombarded with information from Dartmouth, Vanderbilt, and University of Chicago in particular, all very competitive schools. Naive that I was, I now realize this barrage of information was targeted towards my husband and I. We looked at Dartmouth and convinced my son to apply to there and Vanderbilt as it appeared he had a chance to go to school there (even if my husband and I had to mortgage our house!). We paid the application fees to all of the schools the required it (often $60-100) and then waited. My son did not get into one of these prestigious schools.

Looking at their sites, many of these schools really did not need to advertise (which is why we were suckered in as why would they send information to a student they did not want?). So why did they? I have 2 theories: 1) to make money off of the application process. I you are charging $50-100 per application and you have 20,000 applications, that's a nice chunk of change you just earned. Not to mention, you now have your name out to a broad group through the marketing funded by the application fees. 2) In searches, the more competitive your school is, the more apt your school is to be at the top of search engines. How do you determine competitiveness? Using the ratio of # of applicants to #accepted. As a result, it is in the best interest for these prestigious schools to increase their number of applicants.

Now I look at websites in a new way. While some schools claim they do not use SAT's or ACT's to determine acceptance, if they publish the range of scores for the incoming class, and most are at the very top, then I say they do use those scores. Why publish the range if it is not going to be used? Why not have a range of standardized test scores from the students?

Do not get me wrong. My son has a perfect match with the school he currently attends. Academically, it is very strong, especially in Liberal Arts which is what he is studying. This, ultimately, is what parents and prospective students should be looking for. The cultures of those schools he applied to did not fit his style. However, I felt like someone who bought a bogus product from a latenight TV show when his rejection letters began to come in. These prestigious schools lured us in to applying for a school that would never fit my son's style, nor would he have the profile they were looking for. This, I feel, is very unethical.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Knowledge Genres

For weeks, I have been grappling with the "categories of knowledge" I developed in my knowledge grid. During my defense, my adviser pushed me to define what these categories were. Needless to say, my inability to define what exactly these "categories" were and what they represented made me revisit and revise my dissertation. It took a while, but I finally realized that "category of knowledge" did not really reflect the concept I was trying to express. On the other hand, these categories were the central concept of my findings; these came before I was really able to identify what my findings were.

I finally decided I would need to name these concepts using a new term. The closest I came to expressing these "categories of knowledge" were knowledge genres. Once I had a term to describe this concept, I was able to create a framework to identify knowledge genres which eventually I will use to identify design features to optimize knowledge creation.

Defining Knowledge Genres

Genres standardize rituals and rhetoric, influence work patterns, promote particular ways of acting, and set orientation to thinking (Berkendotter & Huckin, 2005; Dias et al., 1999; Nonaka, 1994). In analyzing collaborative writing in distributed groups, genres could be applied to different ways in which knowledge is organized, created, accessed, and used. I refer to this structuring of knowledge as knowledge genres.

I identified two underlying bases for the structuring of knowledge genres which I call transactional knowledge and negotiated knowledge. Transactional and negotiated knowledge both are grounded in the social interaction of the distributed group, but are used for different purposes, create different work patterns, result in different perceptions of ownership and agency, and set different orientations of thinking. The result is different structures in the organization, creation, storage, and access of knowledge which creates different knowledge genres.

Framework for Identifying Knowledge Genres

Based on the findings, an emerging structure to understand knowledge genres was developed. The framework for identifying knowledge genres includes four dimensions:

• type of knowledge;

• level of perceived agency and ownership (individual, intragroup, intergroup, extergroup);

• purpose of knowledge creation (transactional or negotiated); and

• situational factors such as location, level of interaction between distributed group members, time, and external influences.

This section with will discuss the emerging theoretical basis of the framework, and then apply the framework to two examples of knowledge genres referenced by the study participants.

Three types of knowledge

The traditional categories of knowledge are content (or explicit knowledge), competency (or tacit knowledge), and expertise (which is performance based). However,there is a need to redefine the categories as the parameters of knowledge are reconceptualized in the context of distributed groups. Defining knowledge according to depth of knowledge or level of internalization is an insufficient basis for defining knowledge and knowledge creation in a distributed group because knowledge can be partaged. In addition, a social and knowledge networks may have knowledge which may not apply or be perceived as having value to all current situations. However, access to social and knowledge networks can create social spaces that allow for the creation of knowledge for distributed groups or individual members in the future.

Based on the findings discussed in the previous chapter, the definition of knowledge based on depth of knowledge could be expanded to be knowledge genres defined by level of tangibility. Unlike the traditional collaborative knowledge model, the model developed through this study proposes a continuum of tangibility within knowledge genres where three types of knowledge attributes (tangible representation of knowledge, processes and tacit knowledge, and partaged knowledge) are actually on a continuum of tangibility.

The three types of knowledge attibutes I identify as:
1. Tangible representation of knowledge which can be represented by policies, forms, formats, curriculum, degrees or credentials, records, and other artifacts at the individual, group, departmental, organizational, and/or professional level;

2. Procedural and tacit knowledge, which includes an understanding of work processes and the knowledge created as a result of those processes; and

3. Partaged knowledge, which was knowledge created through the linking of ideas, social relationships, cognitive interaction, and/or cultural interaction.

Knowledge genres are used by distributed group members to identify, discuss, understand, value, and create shared mental models and relevant knowledge at all four levels of interaction (individual, intra-group, inter-group, extern-group). The choice of genre is dependent upon environmental factors, power structure(s), knowledge networks, and work task requirements. At one end of the continuum is knowledge that can be identified as transactional and at the other end is knowledge that is negotiated. As knowledge becomes less tangible, groups are able to create knowledge through interaction and negotiation (negotiated knowledge). In other words, partaged knowledge is negotiated or knowledge that is created through group interaction.

In the emerging theory of distributed group knowledge creation, the type of knowledge defined as tangible representation of knowledge is close to Kolb’s (1984) comprehensive knowledge. This is knowledge that can be articulated, represented in various forms (such as visuals, documents, presentations, interviews), and stored for future use. Unlike the more traditional content or explicit knowledge, tangible representation of knowledge may include implicit knowledge. For example, educational credentials (e.g., licensing, degrees) tangibly represent certain knowledge that may include implicit and explicit knowledge. These credentials can be used as currency within a group, thus making knowledge appear tangible. However, within a traditional model of knowledge creation or knowledge management theories, the knowledge that credentials represent would be considered a competency or implicit knowledge that would be expected to be applied in any given situation. In the traditional model, the knowledge that credentials represent would then be both implicit and explicit knowledge, fitting into two different categories: content knowledge and competency (Cook & Brown, 1999; Cook & Yanow, 1993). The emerging theory of distributed group knowledge creation, therefore, needs to allow for a broader definition of knowledge genre attributes that includes abstract and tacit knowledge that can be represented through visuals, documents, and artifacts and stored for use by others.

In reconceptualizing the term competency to procedural and tacit knowledge, knowledge genre attributes move the concept of individually held knowledge and know-how to a socially constructed understanding of how things work within a given situation. It expands the concept of individually possessed knowledge about procedures and processes from a purely cognitive definition (competency) (Allee, 1997; Contu & Willmott, 2003; Raelin, 2008) to a socially constructed understanding of the situation in which procedures and processes are used (requiring analytical ability), the intangible variables that affect the situation, and the interpersonal relationships and meaning negotiation that create social cognition (Herling, 2000). The term competency, does not capture the alignment of knowledge within distributed group power structures, the withholding or use of knowledge based on perceived value, the negotiation of knowledge, the development of knowledge networks, or the distancing of work from the individual based on perceived ownership or agency. In the study, processes and procedures represented work quality expectations, reconciling processes and procedures between group members and departments, and understanding the environment in which work was situated. This indicates a much deeper level of socially constructed understanding, situational analysis, and understanding of how and why things function a certain way, which requires the new term procedural and tacit knowledge.

The use of distributed groups has allowed for both collaboratively constructed knowledge, also referred to as a shared mental model (Mohammed & Dumville, 2001) and the distribution of knowledge throughout an organization (Nonaka, 1994; Raelin, 2008) However, there is no term for knowledge that can be both shared and divided for future use. I use the term partaged knowledge for knowledge that one would need to be able to access and link to other knowledge (i.e., linking ideas, putting into context). The term partaged knowledge is derived from the French word partager, which means both to share and to divide. Partaged knowledge might be internal, such as what happens during an individual’s writing process. Initially there may be many ideas, seemingly without any correlation (divided). Through the writing process, an author must link together those ideas into one cohesive whole (thus the sharing or putting together through interaction of ideas).

Partaged knowledge can also happen with group processes in which members come into the group (especially a distributed group) with different expertise, access to resources, cultural influences, and experience/mental models of the work (divided resources and expertise). Through their work processes, group members’ knowledge is partaged or distributed through knowledge networks throughout the group and beyond. This partaged or distributed knowledge is then accessed when needed and modified or translated for use within a given situation. Partaged knowledge, therefore, includes the ability to co-create knowledge, divide the knowledge for later use, access the knowledge when needed, and translate or interpret the knowledge for a given situation. Partaged knowledge is the most valuable for knowledge-based organizations as it allows for knowledge to be evenly distributed throughout the organization, thus making organizations less vulnerable should an employee leave (Allee, 1997). It also allows for others who are not directly exposed to content, work processes, experience, and/or environments to be able to access knowledge outside of an individual’s knowledge base. Knowledge can be part of the network internal to the group, external to the group, within the profession, internal to the organization, and external to the organization. However, partaged knowledge is difficult to quantify, control, and capture because it is situated, visceral, and colocated.

Partaged knowledge is created through creative practices (writing, design, problem solving) rather than through the imposition of formats or processes. In the traditional knowledge model, expertise is an intangible form of knowledge held at varying degrees by individual group members and demonstrated through performance (Herling, 2000, Nonaka, 1994. Yaklief, 2002, 2010). Expertise assumes that knowledge boundaries are static and access to knowledge ultimately is based on the individual and his or her ability to use the knowledge. In the emerging theory of distributed group knowledge creation, expertise, tacit knowledge, and content can be held by individuals, the group, the organization, or even stakeholders in the form of partaged knowledge. It is not enough for an individual to be able to access information. Rather, it is important to link ideas; add knowledge to the group and/or organization; store the knowledge within a network for future use by others; value knowledge situated in differing power structures and knowledge networks; and link new meaning to established meaning, negotiating the creation of new knowledge boundaries within the distributed group knowledge system.

Partaged knowledge also differs from expertise in that partaged knowledge is the possibility of future knowledge creation when it is needed. Partaged knowledge is the possibility to access and create knowledge within a knowledge network in the future. Even the concept of what knowledge may be needed is abstract with partaged knowledge, although partaged knowledge is based upon a knowledge network that will allow those who are part of the network to access knowledge when needed. To access and use the network, individuals, groups, and organizations need to understand where and when to create knowledge.

Location of knowledge creation, agency, and ownership

The traditional model of knowledge creation locates knowledge and ownership of knowledge with the individual (Nonaka, 1994; Raelin, 2008). Nonaka further identified an individual’s level of autonomy as a requirement for organizational knowledge creation. The granting of autonomy is termed agency. In the traditional model, the idea of agency and ownership are separate with agency being controlled by the power structure and ownership tied to work task artifacts (Lundsford, 1999; Lundsford & Ede, 1992). An individual who contributes to the work task artifact would be a partial owner of the knowledge created through the distributed group process merely by contributing to the process. The degree of ownership would depend on the level that agency was granted.

However, this study suggests that agency plays an important role in how distributed group members and their knowledge networks perceive ownership. The perception of ownership and agency is as much an individual construct which relates to social identity theory as it is a socially defined construct created through interaction by distributed groups based on perceived agency at the intra-group, inter-group, and exter-group levels. The findings of this study suggest that agency is not as much granted as perceived as being granted by those within the power structure through the use of genres (communication and knowledge), perceived value of individual contributions, distributed work processes, and perceived ownership of the final work artifacts and created knowledge. In the study, the greater level of perceived individual agency to create knowledge within a distributed work task, the greater perception of individual ownership over the knowledge and work task artifact.

The emerging theory for knowledge creation in distributed groups, therefore, would use a continuum to identify perceived level of agency and resulting ownership depending on the distance between the individual group member and the perception of where knowledge was created. In other words, an individual without individual agency may perceive that knowledge is created and owned by the organization when group processes, contributions to created knowledge, and knowledge genres are dictated by the organization. Even though the individual contributed work to the creation of knowledge and distributed group artifacts, the individual did not have agency. As a result, ownership moves from those completing work tasks to those that dictate discourse communities, knowledge genres, and work values, norms, and processes. An individual can create distance between his or her perceived level of ownership of work in order to maintain his or her social identity when individual agency is taken away. Therefore, the location of agency (individual, intra-group, inter-group, and exter-group) will have an effect on the location of perceived ownership.

The continiuum I developed to represent the distance between the individual and the level that he or she perceives the location agency and ownership of knowledge creation in distributed groups places high individual agency at one end and low individual agency at the other. The greater the level of individual agency the closer an individual perceives ownership of created knowledge by the individual. On the other end of the continuum, the absence of individual agency in distributed group processes, the greater distance in ownership between the individual and the knowledge created through distributed group processes.

Situating knowledge boundaries

There are a number of situational and environmental factors that affect the creation of knowledge and the use of knowledge genres in distributed group work. As discussed in previous chapters, knowledge creation in distributed groups are situated in the work patterns and power structures within which distributed groups work (Contu & Willmott, 2003; Foss & Pedersen, 2002; Goodwin, 1994; Laufer et al., 1998; Sternberg & Horvath, 1999). Those work patterns and power structures affect how knowledge is valued; where knowledge is created, stored, accessed, and used; who has access to valued knowledge within the workplace, discourse communities, communities of practice, and the power structures; and when different types of knowledge is accessible from (often) competing power structures, knowledge networks, and social networks.

Theories in group communication (Akoyo, et al., 2002; Engleberg & Allison, 2007; Galanes, 2007; Gersick, 1988), communities of practice (Boland, 1992; Haythornthwaite et al., 2000; Johnson, 2001), discourse communities (Hagtvet & Wold, 2003; Parks, 2001; Russel, 1997), and organizational culture (Collis, 1999; Cook & Brown, 1999; Goodwin, 1994; King & Frost, 2002) apply to the study findings that situational factors such as the power structure, access to resources, and social interaction affect knowledge creation in distributed groups. Expanding on these theories, I identified situational factors that affect a distributed group’s knowledge creation as: (a) knowledge networks, social networks, work environment, and power structures of distributed groups including the choice and application of tools; (b) the creation, choice, dissemination, and use of formats; (c) membership in discourse communities; (d) modality of interaction; and (e) the use, creation, modification, storage, application, and collection of distributed group artifacts. Many of these factors both affect and have an effect on the power structure(s) that control the environment and knowledge boundaries in which distributed groups create knowledge. Based on the findings of this study, I propose that creation of knowledge genres are bound by three situational attributes in distributed groups: temporal orientation, access to resources, and level and modality of interaction.

Temporal orientation is the perceived amount of time allowed for negotiation, creation, interaction, and storage of knowledge created by distributed group processes. Any given situation can require that either individual members or the distributed group as a whole create knowledge in a short time period (i.e., minutes or hours) or knowledge is created over a long period of time (i.e., months or years). In the study, if the knowledge needed to accomplish a task was located away from the individual (e.g., within a knowledge network, community of practice, or discourse community), temporal orientation was more long term. The temporal orientation also affected and was effected by group members’ perception of when the knowledge would be needed (immediately, in the short term, in the future). Knowledge genres, therefore, can be bound by how long it takes to convert knowledge into an accessible tangible representation that is valued by those who will use the knowledge, how long it will take for a member to access valued knowledge, how long knowledge will be relevant to and/or stored by those within a knowledge network, and how static the knowledge is.

Another way in which knowledge boundaries were established in the distributed group work processes were through the allocation and access of resources such as communication modalities, social interactive spaces (e.g., conference rooms, collocated offices, online spaces), content experts, and personnel, both within and outside of the organization. Knowledge could be structured based on the resources available and the expectation of the power structures.

Knowledge genres are also bound by the social structures that create the environment and social spaces that affect interaction between individual distributed group members and social circles within which they work (intragroup, intergroup, and extergroup levels). These interactive boundaries are affected by tools given for interaction (i.e., software, office space, communication tools, storage of artifacts); discourse community values, norms, and rules of interaction; and place, time, and opportunity to interact with others at different levels. Knowledge genres may be limited through control of the social structures within which a distributed group works, such as limiting who is allowed to interact, the format of the interaction, power structures valuing some forms of interaction over others (e.g., weekly meetings or interaction via the internet), and choice of discourse community (e.g., preference for one department or profession over another). However, knowledge genres may also have flexibility built in which allows for greater level of interaction and knowledge building. By establishing a more flexible structure for interaction between levels of the power structure, there may be greater control by the individual group member by giving the individual greater agency to create knowledge.

Each of these situational attributes help to define the knowledge boundaries used in the creation, storage, access, and use of knowledge while at the same locating the knowledge in the environment in which it was created.

Examples of Knowledge Genres

There were a number of knowledge genres used by participants in this study. Two of the knowledge genres study participants referred to the most when describing their work and the work of others in the distributed group were credentials and professionalism. Using the framework to identify knowledge genres outlined above, this section will identify the attributes of the knowledge genres credentials and professionalism used in this study. While perception of what credentials and professionalism was varied from group member to group member, department to department, and profession to profession, there was a shared knowledge boundary in which these genres (credentials and professionalism) were framed.


Credentials are the establishment of tangible representation of knowledge possessed by the individual. Credentials can take the form of reports and other documentation of individual work; degrees, drafts, postings, or notes that contribute to the group process; and transactional knowledge such as degrees, awards, and job titles. Unlike the traditional knowledge model, credentials within a distributed group is a socio-cognitive construct. Credentials represent valued knowledge that can be used or transformed into an identifiable form to be used as currency for the individual (e.g., future jobs), within the group, between groups, and externally (e.g., product or service sales). The value of the knowledge is situated within the power structure and environment in which the individual works. Credentials are situated within the knowledge needed for a particular task.

Credentials, unlike documentation, deliverables, and certification, are perceived by the individual as being owned by the individual to dispense whenever the individual believes it is to his or her advantage. As a result, a group member might have hidden credentials that they feel are undervalued or not needed by the group. Credentials also may be tied to the individual’s social identity, so the undervaluing of the individual credentials may result in a group member disengaging from the group, withholding knowledge, or presenting knowledge in a form that is inaccessible to group members (e.g., unfamiliar formats, technical jargon, limited access documents). In the last case, the individual then becomes invaluable to the group as the credentialed individual is the only one able to translate knowledge into a form that is identifiable and useful for the group.

The form that credentials can take may change depending on the who is perceived as owning the distributed work task, the alignment between levels of agency and shared mental models, and perceived location (either individual members or the distributed group as a whole) within the work task power structure. Professional credentials, such as degrees, licenses, and membership in a professional organization, will always have relevance at the extergroup level, but may not have relevance at the intergroup level when organizational and professional qualifications for a specific task are not aligned. When there is misalignment at one of the levels, then credentials may be presented in multiple forms (e.g., diploma for the organization and license for the profession).

Credentials usually represent access to discourse communities and knowledge networks that an individual perceives are relevant for a certain work task. Credentials also may be used as a starting point for interaction between an individual and others (at intragroup, intergroup, or extergroup levels) in terms of resources, expectations, and work patterns for a given task. Finally, credentials tend to have a long term orientation, as it takes a long time to develop credentials. Credentials tend to be composed of static knowledge, and once established, credentials can be stored with the individual for future use.


Professionalism is trans-organizational which means that there needs to be interorganizational interaction for professionalism to exist. This interaction can come in the form of interaction and training with stakeholders, professional organizations, and professional institutions (e.g., professional training programs, higher education programs). The interaction creates both a shared mental model for the profession and an understanding of where and how to access resources within the profession so that it is unnecessary for an individual to know all aspects of the profession, but will have access to all professional knowledge when needed. In other words, professional knowledge is partaged throughout the profession and professional knowledge networks. Professionalism and professional knowledge exists outside of the individual(s) through formation of professional alliances and networks (Nonaka, 1994).

Once a person is identified as a member of the profession, he or she will need to understand where, when, and how to access community resources. However, membership in a profession is socially constructed through professional discourse communities and sub-communities (i.e. Healthcare profession and the sub-community of Healthcare Counseling profession). There are definitive knowledge boundaries that create a broad professional structure within which there is great flexibility for interaction, knowledge creation, and power structures for individual and distributed group work patterns. While the professional knowledge boundaries are fairly static, those individuals that identify themselves as members of the profession may have flexible knowledge boundaries based on interaction with others, both inside and outside of the profession. The individual will align his or her own individual knowledge boundaries with the profession, based on cognitive dissonance created through interaction with others. In other words, with knowledge perceived as professional knowledge, there is a low level of individual agency and, therefore, a high perception of ownership by the profession.

Professional knowledge, because of its partaged nature within the diverse environments in which knowledge creation occurs, is more susceptible to competing power structures. Because professional knowledge is situated in the work processes and social and knowledge networks within which a distributed group works, resources and temporal orientation vary. Therefore, the most valued members of the profession are those that understand how to access professional resources; translate professional knowledge into a form that those within and outside of the profession can understand; and create new knowledge that both fits within the professional knowledge boundaries and yet is situated within the distributed group’s work environment.


The framework presented to identify and understand knowledge genres used by distributed groups differs from the Traditional Model of Organizational Knowledge Creation, in that the framework (a) uses an expanded understanding of knowledge that recognizes that knowledge can be held outside of the individual within distributed group knowledge networks; (b) identifies the attributes that bind the knowledge creation process within the social and knowledge networks situated in the distributed group processes; (c) expands the location of knowledge creation through interaction and perception of influence to include social spaces outside of the organization (externgroup); and (d) identifies the relationship between agency and ownership, and the ability for individuals to contribute to a collaborative artifact without having perceived individual ownership.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Managing the data

Now that I have completed my dissertation, there are some aspects of the research process I want to write about. One topic is related to questions I received at my defense and issues that have been brought up on #phdchat.

One of the first issues was to use a software like NVIVO or come up with my own process/technology. In the end, after downloading NVIVO and trying it out, I felt that it was too much work for the benefit. I have trouble with using software that does not fit my own style, writing and thinking styles included.

So I opted for index cards and work processing software. The index cards allowed me to move ideas around, making connections between ideas, reorganizing so related ideas could be reused. I also did a lot of hand diagrams. Like NVIVO, I have yet to find a diagramming software that matches the way I like to think.

I was doing a qualitative study, so there was a lot of data that needed to be coded. I ended up writing the emerging codes (in pencil) on index cards, then I would discard or revise the codes (by hand) as I coded electronically. I used the comment function to code data and highlighted key words (which I eventually began to write down to identify data later on).

Using Charmaz's constructed grounded theory process, I answered each research question using the index cards with each of the codes. Not all index cards/codes were used as they did not answer the research questions. I laid out each of the codes and began to create answers to the research questions, moving the index cards around when it appeared they were related. After each "category" of codes, I would fill out an index card with the theme. I then wrote out each code that fell under the theme.

I'm not sure I could have achieved this part of the process if I had used a computer. The advantage of the index card was that I was able to see many ideas at one time and manipulate the cards to reflect the various relationship between the ideas.

Once I had the themes, I then went back into the data and identified passages that supported the emerging themes using the key words I had identified (on the coded index cards) and highlighting the font different colors. I then cut and paste each of those passages, identifying the source and page number (i.e. Ronda, interview 1 as the section title, p. 4 {passage}. I also identified when there was no data from participants for a specific theme. At the end of this I had about 40 pages of data arranged by theme and further arranged by participant and/or document.

Finally, I documented the relationship between the data over the study period, developing a visual of how the data changed over the course of the study.

Once I had this, I began to write up my findings by answering the research questions. I would then go into the data and develop my conclusions/findings. I continued to go back into the master list of "passages" trying to find examples that would support my conclusions or reading through all of the passages to help fine tune my findings. This was especially important during my revisions and preparation of defense. It also helped when I was asked to give more detail on my research process as I had all the cards, hand created models, and printouts of passages I used.

I have written this post in the hopes that those with limited resources can use this process to help expedite their research process. This was a relatively low tech, yet thorough process that anyone could use.

Monday, July 2, 2012

You may call me Doctor

I know I haven't been posting much the last few months (well, really not at all). Two things have happened in the last couple of days. First, my final revisions were accepted on Friday, so now I am confident that I will be receiving my Ph.d in August. The second thing is, now that I have time to post, my daughter will have my computer for the next 5 weeks so many of the ideas I had for posting are not nearby!

I will continue to try to post at least once a week on a wide range of topics. One area that I am very interested in posting about are the changes I made to my final dissertation. While many of us who participate in the #phdchat on twitter Wednesday 2:30-3:30 EST (7:30-8:30 GMT I think)know that there will be revisions to the dissertation, this process is almost more painful than the actual thesis writing.

In my case, I went into my dissertation defense knowing to expect some challenges to my work. As my committee members told me throughout the process, my research was messy. As such, it was very important that I knew what I was saying for my final defense. However, there were a few factors that I had difficulty articulating. These "minor" points ended up being major factors as I began to revise my dissertation. In fact, through working out the answers to the questions posed during my defense, I came up with a new concept (and term) as I was unable to articulate it any other way.

I think having been near the end of the Ph.d process also made it even more difficult to complete this last bit. I thought I had gone as far as I could with the data I had (which is why I went forward with the defense). Therefore, I really had to push myself and overcome my complacency in the dissertation to address the issues my committee members had identified.

This was very different than journal articles I have written. I'm not sure why, but I have no difficulty addressing and revising problems pointed out by reviewers. Perhaps it is the high stakes in which I feel for my dissertation I must please my committee members whereas with an article, I can always walk away if my vision and the reviewers don't align.

I want to write some articles based on my dissertation, looking at some of the issues I had to either cut or ignore to complete my dissertation. I really want to start a whole new project in a totally different area. But for now, I'll just blog the next few weeks.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Teaching about mob mentality

Today I taught my group communication class about mob mentality. This is the first semester I have included this in my course, but with the recent publicity about Bullying, I felt it was necessary for my students to understand the role of group communication in the bullying debate. In fact, I think a large part of the bullying problem, especially for those in Middle School and High School, is based on group dynamics, social identity, and intergroup/intragroup relations. I assigned the readings:

Stott, C, Hutchinson, P., & Drury, J. (2001). ‘Hooligans’ abroad? Inter-group dynamics, social identity and participation in collective ‘disorder’ at the 1998 World Cup Finals British Journal of Social Psychology 40, 359–384.

Donley, M. (2011) Examining the Mob Mentality. South Source (1).

I went to twitter to ask for suggestions on teaching this. It seemed that this is not a common topic taught among my followers and my followers' followers, so I was on my own. This is why I decided to write about the activities I used (which was both engaging and interesting for my students). In fact, this was one of the best group discussions I have ever had in class. So much so that I went over time in my class and the students didn't even try to run out before we were finished!

So what did I do?

1. We went to a well traveled area of campus (relatively so for 9:00 AM), the campus center and food court. We found a well traveled area and my students (about 35 of them) lined up. We tried different things, such as all of them looking up and all of them looking down. Initially, the few people in the food court avoided the area, conspicuously changing direction to get to where they were going without walking past the line. My students were also initially uncomfortable. Soon, however, they became relaxed, and began to talk to those that would walk by. By the end the five minutes, my students would try to engage those who walked by in conversation, laying sometimes, sometimes trying to get them to join the line. At one point, there was a person who asked if they were waiting in line for food (they were no where near the food areas). My students began to laugh and this was when the students attitudes changed from uncomfortable to getting into the "mob" spirit. We left after 5 minutes and then discussed what we had observed.

2. Modified survivor game. I broke the class up into two large groups. I then asked a trivia question. Then I had the group vote out two people from the group. This first two to leave for the most part volunteered. We then went to the next round. However, before two more people were voted out of each group, I told the class that those voted out would need to dance in front of the class. At this point, the 4 who had initially opted out of the groups protested and declared that they would NOT dance in front of the class. This round also ended up being more high stakes in terms of who would go. One group asked for volunteers who could dance. I continued with rounds until there was one group of 5 and one group of 3 along with the group of 27 who had already been voted out. I then told all three groups they would have to dance in front of the class, one group at a time. Not surprisingly, the large group of 27 were the least inhibited in dancing (yes, even the one person first voted out who had protested the loudest ended up dancing without a single word). We then discussed peer pressure, social identity theory, and mob mentality.

3. Finally we discussed the TV show, What would you do? This hidden camera show presents ethical dilemma scenarios and sees how people react. Often, the non-verbal communication cues indicate someone does not like what is going on, but action is not taken until someone speaks up. When this happens, often others will chime in. This is a perfect example of both the "mob mentality" and the "silent majority" that don't want to be excluded from a group because they have questioned a group's norms. This is often the cause of bullying, especially in middle and high school. It is not as much an individual conflict as a group dynamic which creates an environment in which group members either feel empowered to act in anti-social behavior because they are part of a group (mob mentality) or others do not want to stop anti-social behavior for fear that they will be excluded from the group.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Knowledge ownership

This is my third finding of my dissertation. I will post the first finding next week.

Ownership of Knowledge

The greater the level of ownership that an individual feels towards a project or piece of work, the more likely he or she will align that work to personal values and knowledge. An individual’s personal values and knowledge might be related to his or her perceived profession, desire to be accepted by the group (project group, department, organization), or the cultures that informed the individual’s work (social, organizational, professional). Just as important is an individual or group’s perceived agency in the creation and use of knowledge within the collaborative process.

According to Skitka’s (2003) AIM model of Social Identity Theory, a greater level of ownership may create higher stakes for the individual within a group. A group member would want to be tied more closely to the other group members’ norms if the individual member perceives him or her to have a higher level of ownership in the work or work processes. Therefore, if his or her work is not accepted by the group, more than his or her work is questioned; his or her social identity and group acceptance is at risk. On the other hand, if the work is perceived as conforming to the norms and values outside of the group, as the quarterly report did, the group member would perceive the ownership of the work as someone else’s. As a result, his or her social identity within the group is not at risk. As a result, he or she might be more open to changes in the final product, work processes, or group knowledge boundaries, especially if those changes are perceived as coming from those outside of the group and the organization’s power structure.

In the group studied, there was the perception that knowledge could be located, owned, and/ or accessed either by an individual or the group when needed. Externally owned knowledge (e.g. the funding agency or organization owning either transactional or negotiated knowledge) did not always need to align with personal epistemologies for collaboration to take place within the distributed group. However, with internally owned knowledge (both transactional and negotiated knowledge), the more work was perceived as being owned by an individual, the greater the necessity that the epistemologies were aligned with the organization, group, and group members in order for collaboration to take place.

As discussed in the traditional model of knowledge management, when faced with information or an event on the group level that contradicts an individual’s personal identity construct (value, knowledge, epistemology, personal schema), that person has three choices: modify his or her own personal identity; modify the group’s beliefs, values, or understanding; or leave the group in order to maintain the individual’s personal identity (Levesque et al., 2001; McGrath et al., 2000; Moreland & Levine, 2001; Skitka, 2003; Whitworth et al., 2000). However, there is a fourth option that the group in this study used: create distance between the individual and the ownership of the work, contribution to the work, and/or knowledge needed to complete the work. In other words, knowledge needed to develop the final product or outcome is created and owned by the group, department, organization, or an external entity rather than the individual.

Related to the concept of ownership is the perceived agency an individual may have over his or her own work. Agency is the perceived ability an individual has to contribute, influence, and participate in the collaborative process. Using Nonaka’s (1994) model of intention, autonomy, and fluctuation discussed in chapter 2, agency is dependent upon both individual attributes (intention and efficacy) and situational factors (power structures and the environment). The greater the perceived agency for a task, process, or final product, the greater the level the individual perceives ownership over his or her work or work products (i.e. writing, designs, etc…). While an individual may feel a sense of ownership towards the knowledge used to create a group product having been part of the group that created it, he or she may not have felt a sense of individual agency in the creation of the knowledge due to influences at the group, departmental, or professional levels.

In the traditional model of organizational knowledge creation outlined in a previous blog post, ownership of knowledge was based on the location of the group work (individual, intragroup, intergroup, organization). This model did not account for influence outside of the organization on knowledge creation and access. Most knowledge management models (Conceicao, Heitor, Gibson, & Shariq,1998; Cook & Brown, 1999; Foss, & Pedersen, 2002; Nonaka, 1994), for example, assumed that knowledge was held by individuals within the organization. Information could then be transferred from individuals to others within the organization, thus creating knowledge at different levels. Occasionally, there was discussion of transferring the knowledge to external stakeholders (Mason & Lefrere, 2003; Yakhlef, 2002). However, the ultimate owners of the knowledge, to be kept or given away, were the individuals where the knowledge was housed (Cook & Brown).

In this study, however, the closer to the individual that agency was granted, the higher the level of ownership (and the closer to personal identity) the individual felt for that knowledge. Location for agency and ownership of work can be placed on a continuum in which perceived ownership of knowledge by external stakeholders grants individuals the lowest level of individual agency. On the other end of the continuum is knowledge that is perceived as being owned by the individual, resulting in the greatest level of individual agency.

In looking at the Quarterly Report, for example, the traditional model previously outlined would place the writing as an individual product, with high individual agency and ownership. This is because each individual wrote his or her own section, which often was edited by Robert; but much of the original writing was in the words of the individual contributor. The location of the work was somewhere between the individual and group levels. However, participants repeatedly distanced themselves from ownership of the quarterly report. In fact, the purpose and format of the Quarterly Report was perceived as being imposed on the individual and project group by the funding agency. Therefore, there was very little perceived agency in writing the Quarterly Report at the individual and even project group level. The Quarterly Report was perceived as being owned by the funding agency who imposed the format, valued knowledge, and discourse style on the project group.

The location of agency and ownership of work and the perceived ownership of knowledge is an important distinction to make as a traditional model would look to capture the individual contributions, interpreting it as expertise at the individual level. However, since the knowledge can be transactional, much of the individual knowledge was withheld or not captured because the individual knowledge the group possessed was not perceived as having value for the organization and funding agency. As Ronda discussed in the group interview:

Ronda: You know one thing the quarterly report doesn’t do is it doesn’t capture…it…it fails to capture a lot of work that is, eh, either a false start or kind of cons…concept building or teaching one another. And that’s…that’s been an incredibly important subtext of this all of this interdependence has been teaching one another about our work. And the quarterly report doesn’t ever…it’s only interested in what you did. Meaning, like what have you got evidence for. (Group interview).

In addition, the quality of the work, since it was perceived as being owned by the organization and funding agency, did not affect the social identity of the individual; therefore, there was little time and effort put into writing the Quarterly Report as it had very little individual knowledge value. Contrary to what Dias et al, (1995) claimed, genres only promote a different way of knowing which can be used as a starting point for group knowledge creation if there is a sense of agency and ownership of the knowledge. Without agency and a sense of personal ownership, the genre cannot trigger cognitive dissonance or negotiated knowledge.

In addition to the project group’s influence, individual members’ membership in a profession and department also had an impact on his or her social identity which in turn influenced perceived agency which in turn influenced perceived ownership. Professional and departmental processes, formats, and visions influenced an individual’s work as part of their desire to maintain the group norms within the profession or department. Each profession and department had its own focus and vision that was unique to the profession or the department. Each profession and department has its own codes, means of highlighting information important to the profession or department, and processes for creating professional and departmental artifacts which defined professional or departmental vision and value knowledge (Goodwin, 1994). Moving from the department to the distributed group, the project group in the study began to create its own lens (codes, highlighted information, the way in which information was sequenced, accessed, exchanged, and recorded), through which valued knowledge was identified. Each group member came to the project with a professional and departmental vision, which became the basis for developing the project group vision and culture.
For example, participants spoke about the difficulties of the project group in working with the Video Production department due to the rigid professional vision and work processes used in Video Production. Elearning was used to using a much less formal process for video creation and set a less rigid standard for video production. As the healthcare counseling project progressed, the Video Production department was given less agency in developing the video and the ownership of the video moved from Video Production to the project group. However, the project group began to revisualize the quality of the video so that it was different from both the elearning and the Video Production standards, yet still acceptable to both departments. The final video product moved location of ownership from the departments to the project group, yet also created negotiated knowledge within the departments through alignment of professional and departmental vision.

Within the collaborative process, tensions would arise when there was a question of legitimate ownership of knowledge or there was a struggle to grant or remove agency. For example, conflicts over writing styles based on differing professional standards often resulted in the realigning of negotiated knowledge. This realignment was sometimes interpreted as diminishing the agency to use certain professional knowledge that others in the group may have valued less than another profession’s knowledge. An example of this would be the conflict the group had over the language used for an elearning module. While Ronda believed a certain tone of language was needed as part of effective engagement strategies in instructional design, Phillip believed the language would be inappropriate for the healthcare profession. For those whose self-concept was strongly tied to the profession such as Phillip, Ronda’s questioning the use of traditional healthcare rhetoric could be perceived as others questioning his professionalism or expertise within the profession and, thus, his self-concept. However, as Skitka’s (2003) accessible identity model implies, the cognitive dissonance created through different professional standards could be resolved by group members identifying others as part of a different profession. In other words, different perceptions of valued knowledge and expertise might be caused by different professional alliances, but these differences might be accepted by project group members of differing professions because of perceived differences of professional alliances within a distributed group. As a result, Ronda aligned her work with Phillip, but at the same time relinquished individual ownership in exchange for the group knowledge and granted Phillip a greater level of agency in the creation of the elearning modules. However, she maintained her individual professional knowledge ownership on what makes a good elearning module.

At other times, differing knowledge about the same topic were allowed to coexist with ownership being shared within the group or between levels (departments, organizational, or stakeholders). For example, even though the negotiated knowledge about the curriculum was the basis for the training manuals and elearning modules, there were differences in the final products produced within different departments, even between those from the same profession. The training manuals developed for the face to face training deparment and the elearning developed for the IT department had fundamental differences. The curriculum knowledge upon which the manuals and modules were based was perceived as being owned by the project group, funder, and organization as a whole. The knowledge used to deliver the curriculum (which tended to be transactional knowledge) was owned separately by individual group members and their departments. The curriculum was perceived as being very valuable at all levels of the project. As a result, it was important to participants that there was a sense of ownership at all levels. The variation in the delivery of the curriculum could be attributed to a sense of lack of agency by individuals (i.e. Olivia and David) and departments (elearning and Video Production); differences in perceived value; or by the transfer of ownership to other levels or project members.

The process of modification and reconciliation of processes and formats helped the project group began to identify ownership of transactional knowledge (certain processes and documents). It also helped individuals to align their knowledge and create negotiated knowledge with other levels of the power structure (group, department, professional, organization, stakeholders). Literature on communities of practice and discourse communities observed the same outcomes when those within the communities experienced cognitive dissonance (Boland & Tenkasi, 1995; Goodwin, 1994). In this study, however, when knowledge could not be aligned, than the individual could distance ownership of a product or the knowledge upon which processes and outcomes were dependent. In some cases, the department maintained ownership (which the group accessed when needed); at other times the group or a subgroup (i.e. the elearning group or the face to face trainers) claimed ownership. Individuals that did not perceive themselves as having a high degree of agency, did not have a strong sense of identity with the knowledge, and/or did not perceive value to the knowledge. They were better able to distance themselves from the ownership of the knowledge used in collaboration.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Transactional and Negotiated knowledge

I have revised my dissertation to include three major findings. This is one of the findings: there are two types of knowledge used in distributed workplace collaborative writing, transactional and negotiated. Next week I will discuss ownership of the writing.

Transactional and Negotiated Knowledge

There are two different types of knowledge used in distributed group processes: transactional and negotiated. Transactional knowledge was knowledge and expertise of perceived value often used as currency within the power structure. In order for knowledge to be used as currency, it would need to be of value, accessible by others, identifiable, stable (with clearly defined knowledge boundaries), and available in either a tangible form or tangibly represented. As explained in the previous section, knowledge of perceived value often were used as currency within the power structure, with study participants sharing, accessing resources, or withholding their knowledge based on their analysis of situational factors within the environment. The use of transactional knowledge is similar to the concept of knowledge used by the knowledge management theorists discussed in Chapter 2. Negotiated knowledge is knowledge created as a result of cognitive dissonance, overlapping knowledge boundaries, and a desire to create shared meaning and mental models. Negotiated knowledge is dynamic, difficult to identify (intangible), and dependent on situational factors. When expertise and perceived knowledge is shared, there is a process of negotiation in which meaning is created and knowledge boundaries are recreated. The concept of knowledge and knowledge creation identified by organizational learning theorists can be termed as negotiated knowledge.

This finding moves away from defining knowledge according to level of internalization and tangibility (explicit/implicit, tacit, content/competency/expertise) to defining knowledge according to its purpose. In addition to knowing what and knowing how (Cook & Brown, 1999; Nonaka, 1994; Sternberg & Horvath, 1999), employees and organizational entities need to have the ability of knowing where and when. Knowledge can be held outside of the individual within knowledge networks for current and future use. Employees that have access to a wide breath of knowledge when it is needed will be the most valuable to the organization, coworkers, and departments.

Transactional knowledge can be located with the individual member, within the group, in multiple departments, or within organizational or professional knowledge networks. In fact, transactional knowledge may be partaged throughout the organization or networks, stored within knowledge networks, and retrieved quickly when needed. For a service organization, especially, transactional knowledge is the product, and as such, the ability to convert knowledge into something tangible becomes an added value to the organization. Transactional knowledge can take the form of content or apprehensive knowledge. Negotiated knowledge, on the other hand can be internalized, located within a community of practice, or embedded deep throughout an organization or network. Negotiated knowledge requires interaction with others and is, thus, time consuming to create. It is the closest to Kolb’s (1980) comprehensive knowledge with the process of negotiation not only creating new knowledge, but also the relationships and understanding of the situational factors in which future negotiations/knowledge creation can take place. Access to negotiated knowledge is used to develop knowledge boundaries at various levels within which collaborations takes place. Negotiated knowledge is important for the functioning of a service organization, but may not be perceived as the organization’s product.

In the study, transactional knowledge or knowledge that was represented in a format that was identifiable, could take the form of documents, models, visual representations, interviews or testimonials, assessments such as quizzes and tests, credentials such as diplomas or training credits, web or training tools, and brands. The more tangible the knowledge was perceived, the easier it was for that knowledge to be traded or used as currency or valued transactional knowledge.

The use and offering of valued transactional knowledge could be banked and used as a currency for future access to resources. Phillip, for example, spoke about the importance of his work with this project group for future positions in the organization, “This is where my education is, all my experience is here. I feel really comfortable, confident, you know, in this field. So I probably want to stay here and this…this ac…this would, um, compliment the experience I’d already have. So could transfer into…into moving me into some other position, maybe, in the future.” In this case, Phillip could use his education and work experience to obtain another position. His resume and college degree were tangible representations of knowledge that he could use in another job or organization.

Transactional knowledge in recognizable formats such as reports, credentials, or group artifacts/products could also increase the value of an individual, group, or department who had access to valued knowledge. The quarterly report was important to the organization because it could be used as currency for future projects with the project funder. Transactional knowledge could also take the form of work processes. Many study participants spoke of how this project could be a model for future projects both within and outside of the organization. The model was a tangible representation of effective work processes that could be stored and replicated by others in a similar environment. As a result, the ability to create a model for similar projects within the organization or the healthcare profession was perceived as knowledge that could be traded, sold, replicated, or withheld depending on its value to others inside and outside of the organization.

Access to transactional knowledge was controlled depending on its perceived value. The video group, for example, withheld their expertise from the project group. Olivia did not offer her expertise and knowledge about video production to the project unless it was requested because she believed decision makers and those in a position of authority did not value that knowledge. She only did the work that was dictated to her by those higher up in the organizational power structure. Any value that she could have added to the project group’s work was withheld if not requested by the project group or the organizational power structure. In this way, she maintained ownership of her knowledge, withholding it rather than giving it away when it would not be valued.

Members of the group also managed access to transactional knowledge partaged throughout their knowledge network. In order to access the transactional knowledge, group members would need to know where the knowledge was stored (i.e. documents, artifacts, personal expertise or knowledge) within the knowledge network, have the resources to retrieve the knowledge (permissions, time, computer program access), and filter the knowledge so only knowledge of value was provided. A member’s knowledge network then became currency for use in their work environment, to be used or withheld at various levels internal and external to the project group. Olivia, for example, seemed to be a strong gatekeeper to her network, partly because of her perception that the group and those in authority did not value her knowledge, but also because she was unsure of her place within the project and organization. She maintained her network outside of the organization and group so that it would not be corrupted should she have to leave the organization. On the other hand, other group members protected their networks from specific members, again so their network was not corrupted (lack of trust, poor reputation, associations with undesirable experts, ideas, or policies). Paul, Helen, and Ronda all expressed concern about Robert interacting with those within their networks. He was perceived as having done damage in the relationships with those within their knowledge networks. There was a fear that further interaction with Robert would result in limited access or the disintegration of their networks. The negative impact Robert would have in turn would dimension the value of the network that they used as currency to access situated knowledge. In other words, their transactional knowledge would lose value.

While transactional knowledge was based on knowledge identified as something tangible or the ability to be made tangible (through documentation, visuals, processes, etc…), negotiated knowledge was dependent upon discussion and interaction. This interaction could include communication between coworkers, resources, documentation, the environment, and/or communication tools such as project management software. The purpose of discussion and interaction was to create shared meaning, norms, and mental models. The participants used terms such as “being on the same page”, “understanding where they [other group members] were coming from”, and “they (don’t) get it” when discussing their interaction and group meanings.

Some of the factors participants identified as being important for creating
negotiated knowledge included: 1) an openness to ideas, 2) feedback, 3) a sense of trust from those with whom the meaning would be negotiated, 4) awareness of where the starting point should be, 5) a sense of relationship with those involved and perspective taking abilities, and 6) cognitive dissonance or the awareness that there was a difference in understanding. According to the project group members, management had a problem with negotiated knowledge because creating shared meaning was time consuming, often without results or identifiable (transactional) valued knowledge.

Group members used a number of communication modalities to create negotiated knowledge. These included:

• Face-to-face communication in the form of formal discussions (e.g. regular “check-ins” and updates), working meetings (e.g. planning, departmental, content), weekly meetings, and informal discussions (e.g. breaks, water cooler or hallway conversations);

• Written communication in the form of scripts, online postings, programming codes, work approvals, reports, emails, planning documents, project task checklists, and feedback solicitations;

• Visuals in the form of write board diagrams, maps that represented content, flow charts, powerpoint slides, video footage, and representative photos.
These different modalities could trigger cognitive dissonance and helped participants discover differences both within and outside of the project group. The cognitive dissonance, once identified, then was the basis for negotiated knowledge, with participants defining the boundaries of their own understanding. Each participant created new knowledge boundaries through negotiated discussion.

The use of either transactional or negotiated knowledge for a group task depended on the perceived value of the knowledge by individual members and others they interacted with, the power structure, access to resources available for the task, time available for the task, and other situational factors.

Group members would use negotiated knowledge when there was time to negotiate, there was cognitive dissonance which was affecting the quality of individual and group work, and there was support for negotiation by those high within the power structure. Sometimes project group members were able to internalize redefined vision, ideas and/or meaning to create negotiated knowledge which became the basis for the project work. Phillip described the process the group went through in adapting content for elearning:

So we kind of, like, arrived at some middle postion. So it’s kind of a neat…ah, you know working relationship. And what it does is gives you o…other ways to think about things that you just wouldn’t have thought of. You know, you…you don’t know to think of those…things if you don’t know. (Phillip, interview 1).

This meaning making and perspective taking leads to higher order thinking and knowledge creation (Ede & Lunsford, 1990; Gunawardena, Lowe, & Anderson, 1997; Hagtvet & Wol, 2003; Jarvela & Hakkinen, 2002). Through group discussions, the sharing of prototypes, and negotiated group processes, the project group defined the knowledge boundaries of what elearning modules should look like and accomplish. This collective vision then allowed the project group to work distributively as long as their work was contained within the shared knowledge boundaries. Once there was an event that triggered cognitive dissonance, such as the project management requiring more elearning modules, the knowledge boundaries would need to be renegotiated. Those within the power structure were willing to allow project group members time to negotiate knowledge, especially in the beginning, in order to build relationships between departments, create a shared mental model from which the group could work, and create group norms that would expedite work tasks later in the project. However, towards the end of the study, less and less time was allotted for the renegotiation of knowledge boundaries as negotiated knowledge became less valuable to those in authority.

At other times, both transactional and negotiated knowledge was used at the same time, but at different organizational levels. The project group members simply were able to understand a different perspective while they maintained their own personal epistemologies and schema for the work task. In other words, there were two levels of meaning and beliefs for the work task: personal and group. The project group’s shared schema would inform group processes, but individuals could distance themselves from the dissonance caused by differences between group and personal epistemologies by handing ownership over to the project group. At this point, personal knowledge became transactional as their personal knowledge boundaries were not perceived as being as valuable as the group’s negotiated knowledge. An example of this was the quarterly report (see Appendix C: Writing Tasks for a more detailed description). While each group member had an idea what the quarterly report should include and the format it should take, the group allowed Robert and the funding agency’s vision to dominate. The project group’s negotiated knowledge about the quarterly report was established through group meetings, discussions on the project software, and feedback from managers and colleagues. However, the project group members distanced themselves from ownership of the quarterly report which allowed them to maintain their own knowledge boundaries on what effective report writing should be compared to the knowledge boundaries on what the quarterly report should look like. Helen, for example, noted that she thought the quarterly report had too much information (transactional knowledge she withheld), yet provided Robert with information he required to write the quarterly report because it was not her report, therefore it did not reflect on the quality of her personal work. Helen was able to maintain her social identity within the project group and organization by distancing ownership to the quarterly report (Skitka, 2003).

In the creation of the document that had perceived value, however, the use of negotiated knowledge in the form of reconciliation of differences between personal and group knowledge boundaries was important. For example, there were tensions between members of the stand-up training, elearning, and management groups over what exactly the Subway Map represented (see Appendix C). There were differences in interpretation, often based on the different understanding of how end-users/trainees would learn, need to know, and use what they learned. Management wanted to use transactional knowledge, in the form of the draft of the Top Ten List, by halting further discussion of the document due to time constraints and pressure to complete the project by the funders. Because the Subway Map would result in the actual final product each group member would contribute to the project, the Subway Map was perceived as being much more valuable by the project group members. In other words, knowledge workers might be able to accept different knowledge boundaries in their work when they do not perceive the work as their own, but they would try to exert their own knowledge boundaries when they feel the work was perceived as theirs (each individual taking ownership for the work). This increased the value of the negotiated knowledge, making it more important that there were shared knowledge boundaries. As a result, the project group members continued to create negotiated knowledge through discussions outside of management’s channels of communication (meetings and project group only online spaces). In this case, the same event triggered the creation of transactional knowledge (the Subway Map) and negotiated knowledge (discussion of the document on alternative communication channels).

Participants also used a combination of negotiated and transactional knowledge by creating knowledge networks that could be accessed in the future. They would develop relationships with others that allowed individuals to maintain their vision, schema or individual beliefs, but also allowed individuals to understand the perspectives of other group members. This negotiated knowledge was based on shared cognition, shared mental models, cognitive dissonance, perspective taking, and social relationships (Akgun, Lynn, & Byrne, 2003). Within this context, there might be knowledge external or internal to the group which could be accessed in the future (transactional knowledge). This future transactional knowledge is unknown (and, thus, could not be defined) until it is needed. However, through social interaction, knowledge networks were established which could be accessed when needed. Paul discussed the knowledge needed working on one of the project tasks as being a puzzle in which different pieces were held by different people (transactional knowledge). Access to those pieces were based on the social relationships that project group interaction created (negotiated knowledge).

Knowledge accessed from a knowledge network could be both transactional and negotiated. The interaction group members had in negotiating knowledge created relationships both within and extending outside of the group. Group members could act as translators of knowledge for resources within their own knowledge networks. Specifically, each group member had his or her own knowledge network which they accessed when they needed to find intellectual and cognitive resources (e.g. answers to questions, feedback, information, expertise or specialization). At times project group members’ knowledge boundaries might not allow them to communicate and/or understand other project group members’ knowledge networks. When this happened, other project group members would need to mediate understanding or translate knowledge between the various knowledge networks. Because the knowledge was of value and in a tangible format, it would be considered transactional knowledge to the person who accessed or stored the knowledge. However, for the person who needed the knowledge, the format was not accessible without negotiation of meaning. Once the knowledge was translated, it became negotiated knowledge.

A good example of this mediation of knowledge within a knowledge network was Ronda visiting healthcare provider students with Helen. Helen was able to speak to the students, many of which were also healthcare service recipients and then translate that knowledge into concepts and terminology that Ronda was familiar with. Ronda then incorporated this information into her elearning designs. Without Helen, however, Ronda might have had difficulty in interacting with the students, asking the correct questions for identifying their needs, and/or understanding the information the students provided as Ronda did not have first-hand experience or knowledge about the subject matter.

The most important group members were those that could create a bridge between the project group knowledge and department expertise, being able to access valued transactional knowledge and then translating that knowledge so those in other groups or departments could understand and use it (negotiated knowledge). In other words valued group members were able to use both types of knowledge. Ronda, Helen, Sam, and Paul especially, learned the discourse of the departments with which they worked. This is why they were perceived as being valuable within the project group. They had excellent negotiated knowledge skills that allowed them to move between departments while at the same time they were able to access transactional knowledge because of the relationships they had developed through their interdepartmental/intergroup negotiations. David commented on the void that was created when Ronda left the project, “now that she’s gone, ah…there’s…there’s really no longer that bridge between what we do and the development of the curriculum. So now it’s to the curriculum developers and then us. (David, interview 2).”

Throughout the study the two different kinds of knowledge were created and used in different ways for different purposes. In some cases, both transactional and negotiated knowledge was used in the same work task for different purposes at different levels within the collaborative writing process. Perceived ownership added to or decreased the value of the knowledge which in turn influenced the type of knowledge (transactional or negotiated) that was used.