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2012/2013  KAN-MAIBC_MCO3  Knowledge Work within and between Organizations: Barriers and Brokers

English Title
Knowledge Work within and between Organizations: Barriers and Brokers

Course information

Language English
Type Mandatory
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course period Spring
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Study board
Study Board for MA in International Business Communication
Course coordinator
  • Mareike Buss - ITM
  • Matthias Trier - ITM
Main Category of the Course
  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Language and Intercultural Studies
Last updated on 25-10-2012
Learning objectives
The purpose of the course is to provide theoretical and empirical insight into various cultural, organizational, and communicative barriers to knowledge sharing within and between organizations, and to develop a contextualized understanding of the type of practical boundary spanning skills that students will learn in the parallel course on Expert Communication.
The goal of this course is to enable students to:
  • Apply theories to critically assess corporate approaches to knowledge work and sharing in an organization
  • Identify and approach common problems pertaining to tacit knowledge in an organizational knowledge exchange practice
  • Examine the role of the influence of different cultures in an organization for knowledge management practices
  • Identify and analyse sociological phenomena, e.g. communities of practice and networks of computer-mediated communication
  • Construe plausible and theoretically well-founded explanations in concrete analyses of empirical cases
Knowledge Work within and between Organizations: Barriers and Brokers
Knowledge Work within and between Organizations: Barriers and Brokers:
Type of test Oral with Written Assignment
Marking scale 7-step scale
Second examiner Second internal examiner
Exam period Summer Term
Aids Without preparation
Duration 20 Minutes
Individual oral examination, based on group project (group size max. 4 persons), duration 20 minutes including grading and feed-back

The examination will consist of an individual oral exam based on a group project that relates to a self-selected organizational context of max. 25 standard pages (per group). Each group formulates and presents the topic of their project during the course; the the project shall involve the collaboration with an organization. The subject must be related to the course objectives and will be approved by the teacher no later than four weeks prior to the exam.

Students will be expected to show that they have read the literature (based on the curriculum) and that they are able to apply it in both the context of their projects and during the oral examination, according to the defined learning objectives.

Make-up and retake exam: if the project has been handed in on time and the student is unable to present him-/herself for the oral examination because of illness he/she can sign up for the oral retake on the basis of the same group-project (has to be handed in according to the exam-plan for re-takes).
If no paper has been handed in, the re-take is an individual 72 hours take home exam, max. 10 standard pages. No second examiner.
Course content

The course falls in two parts. One part of the course will consist of lectures and seminars on broad themes like for example: 

  • The knowledge-intensive organization in historical perspective
  • Current conceptualizations of knowledge work
  • The relation between knowledge and (sub)culture(s)
  • Specialization and systematic miscommunication within and between organizations 
  • Institutional ecology and boundary objects
  • The role of boundary spanners/knowledge brokers
  • Understanding knowledge as a practice
  • The network lens on organizational communication and knowledge work in collectives

In the other part of the course, students will work on a selected case. Teaching will take the form of tutorials. Throughout, students work in groups, and the groups will be required to coordinate their learning activities via a shared electronic platform. A working paper on a selected aspect of the case will be presented two weeks before the case deadline as an obligatory prerequisite for the case exam.

Teaching methods
The course will consist of seminars, lectures and input from student work groups, facilitated by an interactive platform. Students will present one group assignment in class.
Student workload
Lectures 20 hours
Preparation for lectures 100 hours
Seminars 30 hours
Preparation for seminars 90 hours
Group assignments and feed-back 142 hours
Exam (incl. preparation) 30 hours
Expected literature
• Hildrum, J.M. (2009) “Sharing Tacit Knowledge Online: A Case Study of e-Learning in Cisco's Network of System Integrator Partner Firms”. Industry & Innovation, 16: 2, 197 — 218
• Nonaka, I., Von Krogh, G., and Voelpel, S. (2006) Organizational knowledge creation theory: Evolutionary paths and future advances Organization Studies, Vol. 27, No. 8, 1179-1208
• Alvesson, M. and Karreman, D. (2001) Odd couple: Making sense of the curious concept of knowledge management. Journal of Management Studies, 38(7), p995-1018. • Schultze, U. (2000). A Confessional Account of an Ethnography about Knowledge Work. MIS Quarterly, 24(1), 3-41.
• Bechky (2003), Sharing Meaning Across Occupational Communities: The Transformation of Understanding on a Production Floor
• Carlile, P.R. (2004) Transferring, Translating, and Transforming: An integrative framework for managing knowledge across boundaries, Organization Science, 15(5), pp. 555-568
• Alavi, M., Kayworth, T.R., and Leidner, D.E. (2006) An empirical examination of the influence of organizational culture on knowledge management practices Journal of Management Information Systems; Winter2005/2006, 22(3), p191-224
• Knorr Cetina, K. (2001), Objectual practice, in: Schatzki, T.R., Knorr Cetina, K. & Savigny, E. von (eds), The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory. New York: Routledge: 175-188.
• Orlikowski, W. Yates J. Genre Repertoire: The Structuring of Communicative Practices, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Dec., 1994), pp. 541-574
• Bouman, Wim; de Bruin, Bolke; Hoogenboom, Tim; Huizing, Ard; Jansen, René; and Schoondorp, Mark, "The Realm of Sociality: Notes on the Design of Social Software
• E. Wenger, Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems, Organization 2000, 7, p. 225 • Ray Reagans; Bill McEvily: Network Structure and Knowledge Transfer: The Effects of Cohesion and Range. Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 48, No. 2. (Jun., 2003), pp. 240-267.
Last updated on 25-10-2012