Connecting Minds: On the Role of Metaknowledge in Knowledge Coordination
Knowledge coordination, that is, the process of locating, transferring, and integrating the specialized knowledge of multiple individuals, is a critical prerequisite for organizations to make fuller use of one of their most important resources: the knowledge of their employees. Yet, knowledge coordination is as challenging as it is important. This dissertation aims to further our understanding of how groups and larger collectives process information and integrate their knowledge and what factors influence the social interactions at the core of this process.
The three empirical studies contained in this dissertation examine the role of individuals’ metaknowledge - the knowledge of who knows what - in knowledge coordination processes. Findings from the first two studies indicate that individuals who have an above-average level of metaknowledge can play a critical role in catalyzing information processing and decision making in teams as well as in helping to integrate knowledge between organizational groups. The third study furthermore elucidates the role of formal rank in shaping informal organizational networks through which employees seek knowledge as well as metaknowledge.
The findings presented in this dissertation contribute to research on group cognition, knowledge integration within and between groups, and intra-organizational networks. Most importantly, together these studies underscore the importance of taking into account differences in individuals’ metaknowledge in creating a better understanding of knowledge coordination in organizations.