To provide evidence about that the process called knowledge management can happen in work teams, but only if they have the necessary characteristics to be considered communities of practice.
First, the paper identifies the characteristics of the work team that favor knowledge management from a revision of existing literature about communities of practice. Second, by means of an empirical study of 363 individuals working in permanent teams, the paper obtains confirmation that those characteristics exercise a favorable influence on knowledge management. The empirical study is carried out by means of statistical analysis: exploratory factor analysis and Cronbach's α analyses were carried out to check the validity and reliability of scales; conducted correlation analyses were also conducted to test the six hypotheses regarding direct relationships and multiple regression analyses to assess the relative importance of each of the characteristics of the work team in knowledge management.
Empirical evidence is obtained that knowledge management is favored in work teams that possess certain characteristics: self‐management, leadership, individual autonomy, climate of trust, common understanding, and the members' heterogeneous and complementary skills. The paper also provides a detailed examination of that relationship. Evidence is obtained about what characteristics of work teams favor the knowledge management process in its different phases (i.e. creation of knowledge, and transfer and integration of knowledge).
On the one hand, the group rather than the individual would have been a more suitable unit of analysis. So, it should be noted that our findings are to be interpreted as individual perceptions. On the other hand, our scales represent new measures. So, they must be interpreted cautiously.
The paper provides evidence that will help companies to understand the value of knowledge to their success and to obtain maximum performance through the organization of their human resources into teams with the appropriate characteristics to become communities of practice.
This paper fills an empirical gap in the literature around communities of practice and knowledge management.
Zárraga‐Oberty, C. and De Saá‐Pérez, P. (2006), "Work teams to favor knowledge management: towards communities of practice", European Business Review, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 60-76. https://doi.org/10.1108/09555340610639851Download as .RIS
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