Silence or Knowing in IT-Facilitated Face-to-Face Meetings Silence or Knowing in IT-Facilitated Face-to-Face Meetings

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An increasing proportion of work in organizations has shifted from repetitive, structured, individually focused activities to what is now known as knowledge work. This has been accompanied by a stronger need for collaboration and coordination as well as new information technology (IT) tools. It has changed the nature of face-to-face meetings and the ways in which IT can support them. This study investigates how shared knowledge creation (SKC) operates and is supported by IT in face-to-face meetings. Two scenarios, “Silence” and “Knowing,” are used to illustrate the extremes of the types of collaboration that can take place. The article extends Wenger's theory of communities of practice to the domain of IT-facilitated face-to-face meetings. It develops and operationalizes the community-behavior constructs of participation and documentation reification in this context. The article develops a number of hypotheses around SKC effectiveness. The hypotheses are tested in the context of new product development practices in two companies.

The empirical results show that community behavior leads to higher speed of SKC and higher quality of output from SKC. The study further indicates that IT tools affect participation and documentation reification differently. IT tools are shown to only work for participation during formal meetings. The study shows the importance for a team to act as a community of practice in the SKC environment as well as the need for new IT tools and the better use of existing tools. The article concludes with implications for practice and research for IT support in face-to-face meetings.