Knowledge Sharing via Informal Communities in a Globally Distributed Organization

  • Penny Chen
  • Yen Cheung
  • Vincent C. S. LeeEmail author
  • Adam Hart
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 660)


This research studies the geographic diversity and variation in informal communities within a globally distributed bank in Australia and how these differences impact on the effectiveness of internal collaboration within a Bank. Its social networking technologies with implications for their deployment and use are also explored. Online survey data is collected from 373 employees across all its main branches in Australia and Asia. Three main findings are: collectivist-oriented employees tend to feel more positive in terms of their work outcomes after informal community interactions than individualist-oriented employees; individualist-oriented employees are slightly less willing to share knowledge in informal communities than collectivist-oriented employees and e-mail is the most commonly used and preferred ICT tool for communication in informal communities across all global offices, regardless of cultural orientation. Suggestions for further work include doing a study on organisational culture versus geographic culture or doing a study on organisations in transitioning geographic cultures.


Knowledge sharing Informal communities Culture Individualism Collectivism Socialization 


  1. 1.
    Bachmann, D., Elfrink, J., Vazzana, G.: Tracking the progress of e-mail vs. snail-mail. Mark. Res. 8, 31–35 (1996)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bernard, H.R.: Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Rowman Altamira, Lanham (2011)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bhagat, R.S., Ford, D., Jones, C.A., Taylor, R.: Knowledge management in global organizations: implications for international resource management. Res. Pers. Hum. Resour. Manag. 21, 243–274 (2002)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Brunetto, Y., Xerri, M.J., Nelson, S., Farr-Wharton, B.: The role of informal and formal networks: how professionals can be innovative in a constrained fiscal environment. Int. J. Innov. Manag. 20(3), 1650051-1–1650051-27 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chen, J., Sun, P.Y., McQueen, R.J.: The impact of national cultures on structured knowledge transfer. J. Knowl. Manag. 14(2), 228–242 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chen, G., Tjosvold, D., Li, N., Fu, Y., Liu, D.: Knowledge management in Chinese organizations: collectivist values for open-minded discussions. Int. J. Hum. Resour. Manag. 22(16), 3393–3412 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    De Long, D.W., Fahey, L.: Diagnosing cultural barriers to knowledge management. Acad. Manag. Executive 14, 113–128 (2000)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Elliott, A.C., Woodward, W.A.: IBM SPSS by Example: A Practical Guide to Statistical Data Analysis. SAGE Publications, London (2015)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hofstede, G.: Culture and Organizations: Software of the Mind. McGraw-Hill, London (1991)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hofstede, G.: Culture and Organizations: Software of the Mind. McGraw-Hill Co., New York (1997)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hofstede, G.: Culture’s Consequences. SAGE, Beverly Hills (2001)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ismail, K.M.: Theorizing on the role of individualism-collectivism in tacit knowledge transfer between agents in international alliances. Int. J. Knowl. Manag. (IJKM) 8(1), 71–85 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Janhonen, M., Johanson, J.E.: Role of knowledge conversion and social networks in team performance. Int. J. Inf. Manag. 31(3), 217–225 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kedia, B.L., Bhagat, R.S.: Cultural constraints on transfer of technology across nations: implications for research in international and comparative management. Acad. Manag. Rev. 13(4), 559–571 (1988)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kostova, T.: Success of the transnational transfer of organizational practices within multinational corporations, unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (1996)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Lee, C., Kelkar, R.S.: ICT and knowledge management: perspectives from the SECI model. Electron. Libr. 31(2), 226–243 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Leung, K.: Negotiation and reward allocations across cultures. In: Earley, P.C., Erez, M. (eds.) New Perspectives on International Industrial/Organizational Psychology, pp. 640–675. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco (1997)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lucas, L.M.: The role of culture on knowledge transfer: the case of the multinational corporation. Learn. Organ. 13(3), 257–275 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    McDermott, R., OʼDell, C.: Overcoming cultural barriers to sharing knowledge. J. Knowl. Manag. 5(1), 76–85 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Muhammad, N.M.N., Isa, F.M., Kifli, B.C.: Positioning Malaysia as Halal-Hub: integration role of supply chain strategy and halal assurance system. Asian Soc. Sci. 5(7), 44 (2009)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Nonaka, I.: The knowledge-creating company. Harvard Bus. Rev. 69(6), 96–104 (1991)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Nonaka, I., Takeuchi, H.: The Knowledge Creating Company. Oxford University Press, New York (1995)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Nonaka, I., Konno, N.: The concept of “ba”: building a foundation for knowledge creation. Calif. Manag. Rev. 40, 40–54 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Punch, K.: Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches, 3rd edn. SAGE Publications, London (2014)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Triandis, H.C.: Individualism-collectivism and personality. J. Pers. 69(6), 907–924 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Schwartz, S.H.: Universals in the content and structure of values: theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. In: Zanna, M. (ed.) Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 25, pp. 1–65. Academic Press, New York (1992)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Schwartz, S.H.: Beyond individualism/collectivism: New cultural dimensions of values. In: Kim, U., Triandis, H.C., Kagitcibasi, C., Choi, S.-C., Yoon, G. (eds.) Individualism and Collectivism: Theory, Method, and Applications, pp. 85–119. SAGE, Thousand Oaks (1994)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Takeuchi, H., Nonaka, I. (eds.): Hitotsubashi on Knowledge Management. John Wiley & Sons, Singapore (2004)Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Wellman, B.: An electronic group is virtually a social network. Cult. Internet 4, 179–205 (1997)Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Wright, K.B.: Researching internet‐based populations: advantages and disadvantages of online survey research, online questionnaire authoring software packages, and web survey services. J. Comput. Mediated Commun. 10(3) (2005)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Penny Chen
    • 1
  • Yen Cheung
    • 1
  • Vincent C. S. Lee
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adam Hart
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of ITClayton Campus, Monash UniversityClaytonAustralia

Personalised recommendations