Title: Interaction quality within communities of practice: contextual factors of utilising different communication media

Authors: Jan Kratzer, Katja Zboralski, Roger T.A.J. Leenders

Addresses: Innovation Management and Strategy, Faculty of Management and Organization, University of Groningen, P.O. Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands. ' Technology and Innovation Management, Berlin University of Technology, Strasse des 17. Juni 135, 10623 Berlin, Germany. ' Innovation Management and Social Networks, Faculty of Management and Organization, University of Groningen, P.O. Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands

Abstract: The quality of communication is essential for most organisational processes, in particular for creating new knowledge. Among other instruments many organisations utilise |Communities of Practice| (CoPs) to leverage knowledge more successfully. The quality of interaction among community members is recognised as the major success-driving factor. In an empirical investigation of 22 CoPs with all 191 community members of a multinational company, we explore how the utilisation of different communication media – face-to-face, synchronous (virtual) communication and asynchronous (virtual) communication – adds to the quality of interaction. Based on our empirical results, three general conclusions can be drawn. First, the results of our study support theories suggesting that media of smaller bandwidth can be utilised when transferring complex contents. Second, the interaction quality is negatively affected by the increasing number of CoP members. Third, the age of CoPs appears to be an important factor for the interaction quality of CoPs.

Keywords: knowledge management; interaction quality; communities of practice; CoPs; communication; virtuality; media bandwidth; social networks; virtual communities; web-based communities; online communities; multinational companies; MNCs.

DOI: 10.1504/IJNVO.2009.022975

International Journal of Networking and Virtual Organisations, 2009 Vol.6 No.2, pp.199 - 223

Available online: 05 Feb 2009 *

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