Supporting technologies and organizational practices for the transfer of knowledge in virtual environments

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A field study of a global science/technology company provides evidence of the value of both organizational practices and technology tools for supporting knowledge attainment (the combined tacit and explicit knowledge gained in a focal area – in this study we focus on product knowledge attainment) in virtual environments. We present a three-dimensional typology of knowledge management systems. Method of input, form of content, and how the users accrue the benefit of the knowledge help us to argue that organizational practices and technological tools will have independent positive effects on user knowledge attainment. We find attendance at face-to-face community of practice meetings, use of searchable archives, video-on-demand, and full-text search of video-on-demand all positively predict knowledge attainment. We suggest that organizations develop both organizational practices and technical supports for knowledge transfer. An interview with the video-on-demand vendor gives us the context to discuss issues for the support of tacit knowledge in more virtual environments as well as issues of expertise as it relates to support for formal and informal learning.