Using Social Media to Enable Staff Knowledge Sharing in Higher Education Institutions
AbstractHigher education institutions (HEIs) are knowledge intensive environments by nature. However, the management of organisational knowledge and the promotion of staff knowledge sharing is largely neglected in these institutions. This study examines how enterprise social networks can enable staff knowledge sharing in communities of practice in that context. The study is framed as an Action Research project, covering three cycles over a 12 month period. A conceptual model was developed for empirical testing and data was collected through focus groups and interviews, supplemented by reflective journaling and content analysis. The findings support the conceptual model and provide insight into the antecedents necessary for the creation of an enterprise social network enabled knowledge sharing environment, the motivators for and barriers to participation, and the perceived organisational and individual benefits of increased staff knowledge sharing activity. The findings indicate that the barriers to participation are influenced by the prevalent organisation structure and culture, and a divide between faculty and other staff. However, individual benefits that accrue from participation may influence greater participation, and organisational benefits that accrue may influence organisational strategies that drive change in structure and culture to promote the development of the knowledge sharing environment. A number of findings have practical implications for the management of higher education institutions, such as the evidence of a divide between faculty and other staff, and the perceived existence of an organisational culture that inhibits staff communication, interaction and collaboration. In general, the study findings provide an opportunity for educationalists to better understand the scope and impact of employing social media platforms for knowledge sharing. This study adds to the growing body of work on organisational implementations of social media, and should be of interest to practitioners and researchers undertaking similar projects.
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