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Mapping knowledge flows in virtual teams with SNA

Frank D. Behrend (Management Consultant at ELIQOS – Management Advisors, Duesseldorf, Germany)
Ronel Erwee (Director at USQ Australian Graduate School of Business, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 17 July 2009




The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the use of Social Network Analysis (SNA) to map information and knowledge flow in six virtual project teams with members of diverse cultures in private and public sector companies in different sectors.


Due to the area of research, the authors supplemented the in‐depth interviews with an embedded SNA questionnaire and two stage analysis.


The SNA findings demonstrated that network ties are useful predictors of how information and knowledge flows in virtual project teams and can be better indicators than formal project structures. assessment of participants' prestige, activity and influence and their generic formal team functions, thus leadership, member and support roles.

Research limitations/implications

SNA does not yield information about causal factors, context or history of the team contributing to the current team relationships.

Practical implications

SNA as a method in this study delivers information on diverse members' influence, prestige and specific team member‐related brokerage roles. It highlights what boundary‐crossing knowledge sharing activities they engage in and maps the knowledge and information flows between members of the virtual project teams within the companies.


The multi‐method research design represents a sound approach to target knowledge management in virtual project environments in international contexts.



Behrend, F.D. and Erwee, R. (2009), "Mapping knowledge flows in virtual teams with SNA", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 99-114.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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