Modelling distributed knowledge processes in next generation multidisciplinary alliances

A. G. Kanfer, Caroline Haythornthwaite, G. C. Bowker, B. C. Bruce, N. Burbules, J. Porac, J. Wade

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Scopus citations


Current research on distributed knowledge processes suggests a critical conflict between knowledge processes in groups and the technologies built to support them. The conflict centers on observations that authentic and efficient knowledge creation and sharing is deeply embedded in an interpersonal face to face context, but that technologies to support distributed knowledge processes rely on the assumption that knowledge can be made mobile outside these specific contexts. This conflict is of growing national importance as work patterns change from same site to separate site collaboration, and millions of government and industrial dollars are invested in establishing academic-industry alliances and building infrastructures to support distributed collaboration and knowledge. We describe our multi-method approach for studying the tension between embedded and mobile knowledge in a project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation's program on Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence. This project examines knowledge processes and technology in distributed, multidisciplinary scientific teams in the National Computational Science Alliance (Alliance), a prototypical next generation enterprise. First we review evidence for the tension between embedded and mobile knowledge in several research literature. Then we present our three-factor conceptualization that considers how the interrelationships among characteristics of the knowledge shared, group context, and communications technology contribute to the tension between embedded and mobile knowledge. Based on this conceptualization we suggest that this dichotomy does not fully explain distributed multidisciplinary knowledge processes. Therefore we propose some alternate models of how knowledge is shared. Finally, we describe the data collection methodologies and present the current status of the project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - Academia/Industry Working Conference on Research Challenges 2000: Next Generation Enterprises: Virtual Organizations and Mobile/Pervasive Technologies, AIWORC 2000
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)0769506283, 9780769506289
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes
EventAcademia/Industry Working Conference on Research Challenges, AIWORC 2000 - Buffalo, United States
Duration: Apr 27 2000Apr 29 2000


OtherAcademia/Industry Working Conference on Research Challenges, AIWORC 2000
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications


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