This paper aims to explore the relationship between face-to-face social networks and knowledge sharing.
Qualitative data gathered through 25 semi-structured interviews in five manufacturing firms were collected and analysed. A grounded theory approach was used to analyse the data, which was supported through NVivo qualitative data analysis software.
The results reveal that face-to-face social networks facilitate knowledge sharing in diverse ways. These include the use of multiple communication styles, brainstorming and problem-solving, learning and teaching, training, consultations and employee rotation.
The findings of this research are expected to help practitioners to comprehend the big picture and scope of the steps they take to facilitate knowledge sharing in organisations. Viewing knowledge sharing from a holistic perspective can help practitioners comprehend how face-to-face knowledge sharing fits with and complements other knowledge-sharing channels, such as electronic social media and document repositories. In addition, through face-to-face social networks, practitioners can leverage work groups to increase knowledge sharing, meaning that potential cost savings and improved work practices can be achieved.
For researchers, three new models are developed which provide new insights into the nature of the relationship between face-to-face social networks and knowledge sharing. The first model relates to brainstorming and problem-solving, the second to knowledge levels and the direction of learning and teaching and the third to factors influencing social networks and knowledge sharing.
Al Saifi, S., Dillon, S. and McQueen, R. (2016), "The relationship between face to face social networks and knowledge sharing: an exploratory study of manufacturing firms", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 308-326. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-07-2015-0251Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited