The e‐flow audit: an evaluation of knowledge flow within and outside a high‐tech firm Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Use of computer mediated communication, specifically electronic mail (e‐mail), has grown exponentially in recent years reaching as high as 75 percent penetration per household in some countries. The penetration rate is even higher for corporate environments. E‐mail is the communication medium of choice for most businesses and can therefore be construed as a proxy for codified knowledge flow in organizations. This paper advances the knowledge management body of literature by empirically examining several phenomena. Specifically, a comparison is made between inter‐ and intra‐departmental knowledge flows in organizations. Furthermore, knowledge flows within functional departments as well as knowledge flows to and from the external environment are examined. Data were collected from 15,500 e‐mails logged over five random days in a high‐tech organization of 480 employees. These data were then mapped on to the organizational chart and compared with the perceptual responses of a survey administration. Quantitative results were then triangulated with qualitative data gathered during focus groups. The research results yielded two important findings: (1) individuals showed an interesting bias towards over‐estimating their perceived knowledge flow throughout the organization; and (2) the e‐flow audit is an insightful managerial tool which provides a snapshot for knowledge management evaluation.

publication date

  • March 1, 2003