How Organizations Use Collaboration to Create Knowledge

Mark Phillip Ezell, University of Pennsylvania


This research study examined how organizations use collaboration to create knowledge. Organizations around the world are moving from being primarily manufacturing based to more knowledge-based entities. Knowledge can provide a unique competitive advantage in a very crowded landscape as organizations compete for the best ways to guide their organizations. Given these current trends it is opportune to examine how organizations develop knowledge. Recently many organizations have come to believe that collaborative practices help to create knowledge. This dissertation research examined this link to see if collaboration helps to create knowledge in organizations.^ In order to examine this connection the research question that guided this study was: “How does an organization use collaboration to create knowledge?” The study used an exploratory qualitative interview design since the literature has not yet examined this connection in-depth. A convenience sample of 21 participants were interviewed from different industries. The in-depth interviews were then coded and a thematic analysis approach was used to develop themes. ^ The research concluded that collaboration and knowledge creation in organizations appear to be largely informal, self-directed, and self-motivated. Surprisingly senior management does not appear to value or measure collaboration. If participants need support, they reach out to others in their trusted network to help them solve problems. Organizations are able to create knowledge, but it seems to occur only if there is individual and mutual gain from the collaboration. ^ Preexisting team cohesion or mutually identified interests in the collaboration outcomes drove collaboration in an unsupported environment. Very little evidence was found that the participants’ behaviors promoted long-term knowledge discoveries that could be more broadly transferred to others within the organization. This research study opens up possible future research studies that may include a larger stratified study and research to explore technology and its impact on collaboration and knowledge creation. Keywords: create, knowledge, organization, competitive^

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Recommended Citation

Ezell, Mark Phillip, "How Organizations Use Collaboration to Create Knowledge" (2017). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI10255888.