Knowledge sharing in project teams: a research model underpinned by action learning
conference contributionposted on 25.03.2015, 14:13 by Ghosia Ahmed, Gillian Ragsdell, Wendy Olphert
Project environments are highly knowledge-intensive as project teams are intentionally formed with a diverse range of members with specialist knowledge, skillsets and experiences in order to collaborate and produce a unique product or service. Due to their specialist expertise, individually, project team members do not have all of the knowledge a project requires and must acquire this knowledge from their peers in order to accomplish their work. So, effective knowledge sharing by team members is a fundamental component in projects that leads to better performance. Essential learning from each project is vital in order for the team to develop and can be acquired from sharing of tacit knowledge, for example, post-project reviews or sharing of lessons learned which typically take place after project completion. Learning is ‘cradled in the task’ and occurs through reflection on the experience. However, reflection does not occur easily or naturally, as it requires a space in which individuals are able to stand back and relax their presuppositions. This is a greater challenge in team environments where efforts to generate reflection often fail. Action learning (AL) takes place in a mutually supportive team where individuals can openly share experiences and problems, which enables a team to learn, develop, and make decisions on appropriate courses of action during the project lifecycle. Thus, in AL teams, reflection occurs naturally and continuously because of the time and conditions that are deliberately carved for reflection and listening. In addition to the learning that is generated, action learning also provides benefits such as team building, increasing learning capacity, empowering employees and transforming organisational culture. However, from an extensive literature review it has become evident that there is a lack of a ‘standard’ definition of or approach to action learning. Despite the wide variety of action learning applications and approaches, it is primarily being used as a pragmatic instrument in research where its philosophical roots are often overlooked. Thus, in this paper, we propose a novel qualitative research approach, philosophically underpinned by AL, which will enable effective knowledge sharing, reflection and learning in cross-functional project teams.
- Business and Economics