Abualqumboz, Moheeb, Reid, Iain, Papalexi, Marina and Bamford, David (2017) Can knowledge be retained in organisational networks? In: ECKM2017 - European Conference on Knowledge Management, 7-8 September 2017, Barcelona.

Taking a constructivist view of knowledge where knowledge is viewed as a process of knowing, the literature on knowledge sharing assumes that knowledge can be retained through being embedded in institutional routines, structures, and systems. However, this concept is challenged in the context of informal organisational networks where membership is voluntary, temporary and organisationally unsanctioned. Such challenges have predominately focused around: 1) behavioural aspects including organisational and individual defence mechanisms to protect knowledge and opportunistic behaviours such as free-riding; or 2) social aspects including lack of mutual trust and asymmetric power relations.
This paper investigates the challenges to knowledge retention in knowledge-sharing networks, reporting on data collected from case studies of four organisational networks in the UK. There is a significant amount of literature addressing such challenges on organisational level, however, less research has been done on the network level. In particular, the challenge of knowledge retention within networks. The research adopts Social Exchange Theory in order to develop the theoretical underpinning and data interpretation. The paper also presents an explanatory model to inform theorists and practitioners on how to improve knowledge retention in networks. The case study consisted of four knowledge-sharing networks, two photography networks; women entrepreneurship network; and a construction network in the North West of England. A qualitative approach was used through an ethnographic lens consisting of 18 months participant observation study that produced 28 semi-structured interviews. The study also utilised data from network archive network spanning two years from 2012-2014.

ECKM 2017 Full paper - Abualqumboz et al.docx - Accepted Version

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