To boost project performance, managers of engineering and construction organizations are interested in sharing knowledge between employees across the organization. Global project-based organizations that operate in diverse markets are particularly keen to share knowledge collectively across projects and regions to gain a competitive advantage. Unfortunately, creating knowledge-sharing connections (KSCs) and knowledge-sharing networks (KSNs) can be particularly challenging for global project-based organizations. They face not only typical knowledge-sharing barriers of resources, organizational structures and individual motivations, but also physical and cultural barriers due to geographical distance. Although the benefits of global knowledge sharing are established, little is known about how KSCs and KSNs are established and maintained. In order to better understand the network structure and the formation of KSCs within these global organizations, the research analysed the KSC within a KSN focused on sustainability in one large multinational engineering organization. This paper analyses KSCs that span geographical boundaries to determine regional knowledge exchange patterns within the KSN, why KSCs across geographical boundaries are formed and maintained and the barriers to establish these KSCs. To meet these objectives, a mixed research method was employed, including quantitative and qualitative analyses. Social network questionnaires and analysis determined the mechanics and dynamics of knowledge sharing within the KSN, including knowledge exchange patterns and metrics. Code was developed to determine the influence of geographical location on KSC within the network, which revealed a propensity for intra-regional knowledge exchange, particularly at a weekly knowledge exchange frequency. However, geographical proximity was found to be less important in inter-regional knowledge exchange patterns. Instead, despite location or economic indicators, regions exchange knowledge most frequently with the corporate headquarters. To better understand why and how knowledge connections across geographical boundaries were formed, approximately 5% of network members were interviewed using a semi-structured format and ethnographic techniques. The results indicate that engineering organizations must strategically focus on knowledge exchange by identifying technical experts and centres of excellence that consult across the organization, supporting an organizational structure and controls that encourage collaboration across borders, and creating resources to facilitate face-to-face meetings, training sessions or internal organizational projects with global KSN members.

Javernick-Will, A. (2011). “Knowledge-Sharing Connections Across Geographical Boundaries in Global Intra-firm Networks.” Engineering Project Organizations Journal. 1 (4), 239-253. doi: 10.1080/21573727.2011.613458