How is New Organizational Knowledge Created in a Virtual Context? An Ethnographic Study

Baralou, Evangelia and Tsoukas, Haridimos (2015). How is New Organizational Knowledge Created in a Virtual Context? An Ethnographic Study. Organization Studies, 36(5) pp. 593–620.



Seeking to enhance our understanding of organizational knowledge creation in multimodal polysynchronous contexts, this paper empirically explores a project team, within a UK-based international company, concerned with the development of new software. Our aim is to extend current dialogical approaches to organizational knowledge creation, largely developed in the context of face-to-face communication, into virtual contexts of communication. Through close analysis of the ICT-mediated dialogical interactions between the members of a project team and the occasional face-to-face interactions between certain members of the project team and other organizational members, we show how knowledge creation emerges via three core dialogical processes: dialogues with real others, quasi-dialogues with invisible others, and quasi-dialogues with virtual artifacts. Exploring these processes in more depth, we further argue that the dialogical processes at hand are crucially shaped by team members actively working with the materiality of technology used, which enables them to: (a) mobilize multiple task-related voices when simultaneously interacting in multiple contexts; (b) alter the boundaries of communication to suit the demands of the task at hand; and (c) textualize the ongoing experience of interaction with others and artifacts.

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