Improving IS Research Relevance for Practitioners: The Role of Knowledge Networks
International Conference on Information Systems
Relevance, defined as useful and actionable knowledge in situ, can appropriately be viewed as a result of 'knowledge exchanges' between practitioner and scientific communities. Such exchanges take place in heterogeneous knowledge networks consisting of multiple actors, types of knowledge, and mechanisms of knowledge exchange. IS research has traditionally emphasized the selection perspective with regard to role and impact of such networks foregrounding scholarly community's role in selecting
... distributing relevant knowledge as defined by the IS community. This paper advances a networking perspective by probing enablers, competencies and barriers for relevant knowledge across IS and practitioner communities. We introduce five main types of knowledge that can flow in knowledge networks and apply the concept of absorptive capacity to analyze the outcomes and processes of knowledge exchanges of each knowledge type within such networks. We also review how different types of knowledge are potentially sought and absorbed by one community from another through leveraging specific constellations of knowledge networks. Given meager empirical research concerning a) how IT managers and senior IT professionals (consultants etc) source and exchange different types of knowledge in their practices, and b) the properties of this knowledge such as its volatility, accuracy, validity demands, forms of sourcing, genre or presentation, we conduct an exploratory field study on knowing and knowledge dissemination practices among high level IT professionals. First, we find the knowledge network model to be highly effective in identifying variations in absorptive capacity by type of knowledge and type of PRC member (Leader/Consultant). The application of the model to field data also reveals why consultants have become and are likely to remain successful knowledge brokers between different knowledge communities within IS domain. We note the narrow band of influence that IS community bears on IT professional's knowledge practices and make several recommendations for improving the situation.