Knowledge seeking represents the process of approaching a knowledge provider when a knowledge seeker does not have the knowledge they need. The process of knowledge seeking is important for engineering organizations as it allows people to obtain the knowledge they need to resolve everyday project problems. In the process of knowledge seeking, knowledge accessibility and provider’s expertise represents the two major factors determining knowledge seeker’s choice of knowledge providers.  Because there are numerous barriers in the process of knowledge seeking, this dissertation seeks to identify the antecedents of knowledge accessibility and expertise assessment. The overall dissertation research questions is: What are the antecedents of knowledge seeking? The context of the study is one large engineering organization that focuses on providing water and wastewater services. First, the dissertation identifies the characteristics of experts based on the cues that knowledge seekers use to assess knowledge providers’ expertise. Second, the dissertation identifies the gender characteristics which affect knowledge accessibility between the knowledge seeker and knowledge provider. Lastly, the dissertation identifies the control systems which influence knowledge accessibility based on the knowledge type. A multi-method approach (qualitative and quantitative) is used in dissertation research using survey data distributed to 855 people in the organization and 35 interviews with knowledge seekers.

The results in this dissertation contribute to theory and practice by identifying the social and governance mechanisms that influence knowledge accessibility. These results contribute to a social view of knowledge seeking by showing the importance of gender for knowledge accessibility and forms of capital for expertise assessment. Identifying the governance mechanisms which contribute to knowledge accessibility contribute to theory of knowledge governance by connecting the macro level control systems with micro level knowledge accessibility. For practitioners, this dissertation emphasizes the barriers and enhancers to the process of knowledge seeking. First, the dissertation shows the importance of enhancing social capital among employees in order to cultivate expertise. Second, the dissertation identified gender groups which are disconnected. Finally, the dissertation shows which control systems need to be implemented by the management based on the knowledge type in order to increase knowledge accessibility. 

Poleacovschi, C. (2017). "The Role of Social and Goverance Mechanism on the Process of Knowledge Seeking in Engineering Organizations." Dissertation, University of Colorado Boulder.