Knowledge Acquisition by Geographically Isolated Technical Workers: The Emergence of Spontaneous Practices from Organizational and Community-Based Relations

  • V. Corvello
  • P. Migliarese
Conference paper


The expression geographically isolated technical workers (GITWs) addresses those individuals which carry out technical tasks and work distant from any other member of their organization. In recent years firms have made substantial investments in Knowledge Management Systems (KMSs) in order to support knowledge acquisition by distant workers. KMSs, however, did not meet the expected target. KM-related activities are perceived by GITWs as tiresome and extraneous to their task. In order to improve its effectiveness, KM needs to be integrated in the daily practices of workers. Through the study of two cases, this paper analyzes the practices spontaneously enacted by GITW to acquire technical knowledge. It builds on the theory of Communities of Practice by considering how formal organizational relations, as well as community-based ones, contribute to the emergence of spontaneous practices. The obtained results are used to formulate recommendations on KMSs design and management.


Knowledge Management Knowledge Acquisition Technical Knowledge Knowledge Worker Knowledge Management System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Corso, M., Martini, A., Pellegrini, P., Massa, S., and Testa, S. (2006) Managing Dispersed Workers: The New Challenge in Knowledge Management. Technovation, 26, 583-594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Corvello, V. and Migliarese, P. (2007) Virtual Forms for the Organization of Production: A Comparative Analysis. International Journal of Production Economics, 110(1-2), 5-15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cramton, C. (2001) The Mutual Knowledge Problem and its Consequences for Dispersed Collaboration. Organization Science, 15(3), 346-371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Orlikowski, W. (2002) Knowing in Practice: Enacting a Collective Capability in Distributed Organizing. Organization Science, 16(3), 249-273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Raghuram, S. (1996) Knowledge Creation in the Telework Context. International Journal of Technology Management, 8, 859-870Google Scholar
  6. 6.Kazi, A. S. and Wolf, P. (2006) Real Life Knowledge Management: Lessons from the Field.
  7. 7.
    King, N. (1995) The qualitative research interview. In: Cassell, C. and Symon, G. (eds.), Qualitative Methods in Organisational Research. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Davenport, T. H. (2005) Thinking for a Living: How to get Better Performance and Results from Knowledge Workers. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    McAfee, A. P. (2006) Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration. MIT Sloan Management Review, 3, 21-28Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    OECD (2000) Knowledge Management in the Learning Society. Paris: OECDGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Migliarese, P. and Verteramo, S. (2005) Knowledge creation and sharing in a project team: An Organizational Analysis Based on the Concept of Organizational Relation. The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 2, 97-106.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Conner, K. and Prahalad, C. K. (1996) A Resource-Based Theory of the Firm: Knowledge Versus Opportunism. Organization Science, 10(7), 477-501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice, Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Yin, R. (1994) Case Study Research 2nd Ed., Thousand Oaks, CA: SageGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Corvello
    • 1
  • P. Migliarese
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze AziendaliUniversità della CalabriaCosenzaItaly

Personalised recommendations