The management of organisational knowledge and the promotion of staff knowledge sharing is largely neglected in higher education 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. During the Diagnosing phase, a conceptual model was developed for empirical testing. Data was collected through 30 semi-structured interviews and a number of focus groups. This was supplemented by content analysis and reflective journaling.
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.
As the study has a higher education focus, all of the findings may not be generalizable to other types of organisation. Further development of the conceptual model and testing in other contextual settings will yield greater generalizability.
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. 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 paper 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.