Document (#32847)

Author
Cox, A.M.
Title
Beyond information?-?factors in participation in networks of practice : a case study of web management in UK higher education
Source
Journal of documentation. 63(2007) no.5, S.765-787
Year
2007
Abstract
Purpose - This paper aims to explore the pattern and significance of cross-organizational ties in an emergent professional field, web production in UK higher education. Design/methodology/approach - The research is based on in-depth interviews with 21 practitioners and analysis of activity in cross-organizational spaces, such as an online community and a series of annual practitioner conferences on the web in HE (1997). Findings - The cross-organizational spaces have support and symbolic roles as well as informational ones. They have overlapping but different membership and agendas. Key factors that govern individual participation and so the shape of cross-organizational spaces are differential involvement in technical innovation, degree of organizational embedding or marginality, differences in organizational position and role, orientation towards centralization or decentralization and orientation towards marketing or IT. There is some sense of occupational community among web managers, but within that also diversity and a significant fracture line between marketing and IT perspectives on the role. This may explain the lack of formal professionalization. As a more natural boundary practice between organizations than marketing, IT has more public visibility, possibly influencing the course jurisdictional struggles over who should control the web. Originality/value - Most studies of knowledge sharing have focussed on the factors which influence it within an organization, yet cross-organizational sharing is also of importance, even for established professions as the boundaries of organizations become more open. For new occupations cross-organizational ties may be a critical resource, and not only for sharing information or support, but for making sense of what the job is about at the deepest level. The research is also original in analysing a relatively little researched occupational group, those producing web sites for a living. It will be relevant to those interested in online and people centered information seeking, in professionalization and occupational identity.
Location
GB

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