Extra-team connections for knowledge transfer between staff teams

Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
Health Education Research (Impact Factor: 1.66). 07/2009; 24(6):967-76. DOI: 10.1093/her/cyp030
Source: PubMed


As organizations implement novel health promotion programs across multiple sites, they face great challenges related to knowledge management. Staff social networks may be a useful medium for transferring program-related knowledge in multi-site implementation efforts. To study this potential, we focused on the role of extra-team connections (ties between staff members based in different site teams) as potential channels for knowledge sharing. Data come from a cross-sectional study of after-school child-care staff implementing a health promotion program at 20 urban sites of the Young Men's Christian Association of Greater Boston. We conducted a sociometric social network analysis and attempted a census of 91 program staff members. We surveyed 80 individuals, and included 73 coordinators and general staff, who lead and support implementation, respectively, in this study. A multiple linear regression model demonstrated a positive relationship between extra-team connections (beta = 3.41, P < 0.0001) and skill receipt, a measure of knowledge transfer. We also found that intra-team connections (within-team ties between staff members) were also positively related to skill receipt. Connections between teams appear to support knowledge transfer in this network, but likely require greater active facilitation, perhaps via organizational changes. Further research on extra-team connections and knowledge transfer in low-resource, high turnover environments is needed.

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    • "SNA has a history of applications within social and behavioral sciences including political systems, community networks, social supports, and group problem solving [19] and can be a useful tool to identify strengths or problems in social structures. SNA is relatively new to health settings although it has been used to: identify key people to improve knowledge sharing efficiency between specialists within hospitals [20]; understand internal/external influences for designing healthcare teams [21]; identify an intervention champion within schools [22]; and identify structural needs for facilitating knowledge transfer between afterschool program teams [23]. The aim of the current study was to determine the feasibility and relevance of SNA for child obesity prevention amongst staff within a long day care setting. "
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    • "Research into teams in organisations has largely investigated the influences of work group characteristics (Campion et al., 1993) and team structures (Stewart and Barrick, 2000) on team performance. However, social interaction between team members should be emphasised in such studies because team interaction, including both extra-team and intra-team connections, can positively affect knowledge transfer and improve team performance (Ramanadhan et al., 2009). Undoubtedly, team trust is a vital factor to teamwork success and team effectiveness (Liu et al., 2010). "
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