Information and knowledge sharing is not distributed homogeneously within construction and engineering organizations. Instead, subgroups form and limit the flow of information and knowledge across these organizations. As a result, boundary spanners - individuals who span information and knowledge across different subgroups—become increasingly important to engineering organizations. Previous research has examined boundary spanners across designated boundaries, such as geographic boundaries. However, additional research is needed to analyze the subgroups that form naturally within organizations and the individuals who occupy boundary-spanning positions between these natural subgroups. To address this gap, our research analyzed responses to a questionnaire administered to the entire information technology (IT) department within a large, multinational engineering and construction organization. First, using a modularity optimization algorithm, subgroups that share more information and knowledge internally than externally were identified. Second, to validate the performance benefits of sharing information and knowledge across these subgroups, boundary spanner scores were identified and analyzed with individual performance ratings obtained from the organization. Results demonstrate that performance is enhanced for individuals that bridge subgroups. These findings contribute to boundary spanner theory by attending to the important dimension of directionality of information and knowledge sharing when spanning subgroups.
Poleacovschi, C. and Javernick-Will, A. (2016). “Spanning Knowledge Across Subgroups and Its Effects on Individual Performance.” Journal of Management in Engineering. 32 (4), 04016006. doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)ME.1943-5479.0000423