Are we on the same page? Knowledge boundaries and transactive memory system development in cross-functional teams

Julia Kotlarsky*, Bart van den Hooff, Leonie Houtman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

One of the key challenges that organizations face when trying to integrate knowledge across different functions is the need to overcome knowledge boundaries between team members. In cross-functional teams, these boundaries, associated with different knowledge backgrounds of people from various disciplines, create communication problems, necessitating team members to engage in complex cognitive processes when integrating knowledge toward a joint outcome. This research investigates the impact of syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic knowledge boundaries on a team’s ability to develop a transactive memory system (TMS)—a collective memory system for knowledge coordination in groups. Results from our survey show that syntactic and pragmatic knowledge boundaries negatively affect TMS development. These findings extend TMS theory beyond the information-processing view, which treats knowledge as an object that can be stored and retrieved, to the interpretive and practice-based views of knowledge, which recognize that knowledge (in particular specialized knowledge) is localized, situated, and embedded in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-344
Number of pages26
JournalCommunication Research
Volume42
Issue number3
Early online date26 Dec 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Keywords

  • pragmatic knowledge boundaries
  • cross-functional team
  • semantic
  • syntactic
  • transactive memory system

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