Bridging The Gap: Virtual Worlds as a Platform for Knowledge Transfer


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Presentation at the Gamers in Society seminar in Tampere, Finland, on April 17, 2007.

Published in: Business, Education

Bridging The Gap: Virtual Worlds as a Platform for Knowledge Transfer

  1. 1. Bridging the gap: Virtual Worlds as a Platform for Knowledge Transfer Gamers in Society Seminar Tampere, Finland
  2. 2. A few words about my background <ul><li>M.Sc. in Management Information (Tilburg University, The Netherlands) and Technology & Human Affairs (Washington University in Saint Louis) </li></ul><ul><li>12 years of experience as a management consultant </li></ul><ul><li>Currently work for YNNO, a small consultancy firm for innovative working in The Netherlands </li></ul><ul><li>Clients: insurance companies, Dutch government, healthcare industry </li></ul><ul><li>Areas of expertise: collaborative technologies, virtual teamwork, knowledge management, digital working, office design </li></ul><ul><li>Since August 2006 also Ph.D. candidate at Nyenrode Business Universiteit </li></ul><ul><li>Status: finishing initial theory development, about to start with design of research methodology </li></ul>
  3. 3. The subject of my Ph.D. project Digital Games Research Knowledge Management The managerial relevance of virtual worlds Computer Supported Cooperative Work Synthetic Worlds Research Work Play
  4. 4. Starting point: knowledge transfer <ul><li>Combining the pieces of the puzzle </li></ul><ul><li>Effective knowledge transfer leads to sustained competitive advantage (Prusak, 2001; Thomas & Allen, 2006) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>by making companies more agile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and by fostering creative problem solving </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The major challenges lie in the area of tacit knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Larry Prusak: “…don’t capture, but connect…” </li></ul>
  5. 5. Conditions for knowledge transfer <ul><li>Communication is key (Davenport & Prusak, 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>It requires the full spectrum of communication </li></ul><ul><li>It is best served by spontaneous meetings of the mind </li></ul><ul><li>Trust is necessary (Matson & Prusak, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional view: this requires face-to-face contact </li></ul><ul><li>However: face-to-face contact is often expensive and time-consuming </li></ul>
  6. 6. Problems of computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) <ul><li>Communicating ambiguous information takes more time (Daft & Lengel, 1986; Walther, 1996) </li></ul><ul><li>Supporting informal interactions is difficult (Dourish & Bly, 1992; Kraut, et al., 1990) </li></ul><ul><li>In general: supporting the social aspects of work is difficult </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ackerman (2000): “the social-technical gap” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>showing promise: use of instant messaging in the workplace </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Thus: CSCW falls short in supporting knowledge transfer because it fails to support “the talk around the task” (Brown, et al., 2005) </li></ul>
  7. 7. A fundamental problem of approach? <ul><li>“ [T]elecommunications research seems to work under the implicit assumption that there is a natural and perfect state - being there - and that our state is in some sense broken when we are not physically proximate. The goal then is to attempt to restore us, as best as possible, to the state of being there. [This orients] us towards the construction of crutch-like telecommunication tools (…)” </li></ul>Jim Hollan & Scott Stornetta (1992)
  8. 8. A new starting point <ul><li>Communication and collaboration in virtual worlds </li></ul><ul><li>Where apparently location and physical proximity is not an issue </li></ul><ul><li>The divide: CSCW is connected to work, while virtual worlds inhabit the realm of play </li></ul>
  9. 9. The key difference: motivation <ul><li>Computer games are intrinsically motivating (Medina, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>Computer supported cooperative work is extrinsically motivating: the outcome of the activity supplies the motivation (completing a work-related task) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Hypothesis 1 <ul><li>The use of virtual worlds always shows higher levels of intrinsic motivation than the use CSCW in groups of knowledge workers with similar features. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Illustration of extrinsic motivation <ul><li>“ You have to be extremely focused on results [when you work in a virtual team]. People that are focused on the process will most likely have big problems. That’s because the satisfaction you get from the process is very low.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The first thing you notice about virtual meetings is that they are much more businesslike, more to the point than regular meetings. Whereas in regular meetings people exchange some small talk and talk about personal things, this is lost in virtual meetings.” </li></ul>
  12. 12. Hypothesis 2 <ul><li>A higher level of intrinsic motivation when using computer-mediated communication always equals a better support for the social aspects of work patterns (specifically: informal communication and trust) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Virtual worlds <ul><li>I use the boundaries set by Richard Bartle (2004): </li></ul><ul><li>underlying, automated rules </li></ul><ul><li>user represented by a single avatar </li></ul><ul><li>interaction in real-time </li></ul><ul><li>multi-user </li></ul><ul><li>persistent. </li></ul><ul><li>So this includes both gaming and non-gaming virtual worlds. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Motivation in virtual worlds <ul><li>These elements cause intrinsic motivation in virtual worlds: </li></ul><ul><li>competence </li></ul><ul><li>autonomy </li></ul><ul><li>relatedness </li></ul><ul><li>fantasy </li></ul><ul><li>curiosity </li></ul>
  15. 15. Competence <ul><li>Creating a balance between skills and challenges (Lepper & Malone, 1987) </li></ul><ul><li>Condition for a flow experience (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990): rules that require the learning of skills </li></ul><ul><li>A feeling of effectiveness (Ryan, et al., 2006) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Autonomy <ul><li>Providing a sense of control to the user (Lepper & Malone, 1987) </li></ul><ul><li>Condition for a flow experience (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990): the possibility to exercise control </li></ul><ul><li>A sense of volition (Ryan, et al., 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>The first person imperative: participating as an agent (Laurel, 1993) </li></ul><ul><li>Immediate feedback (Steinkuehler, 2004) </li></ul>
  17. 17. Relatedness <ul><li>The feeling of belonging and being connected with others (Ryan, et al., 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>A new type of third places : places for neither work nor home where informal social interactions can take place (Steinkuehler, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>An environment that seems to stimulate interactions between strangers, much like a real-life carnival or party (Brown & Bell, 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunity for social action : the ability to do things together with others in these virtual worlds; “it is this shared activity in itself which is pleasurable and a goal for players, rather than necessarily making new social bonds.” (Brown & Bell, 2004); also: shared laughter or group play (Noveck, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>A space that makes it possible to “bump into” people and strike up opportunistic conversations (Evard, et al., 2001) </li></ul><ul><li>Network effect: the value increases with the number of participants </li></ul>
  18. 18. Fantasy <ul><li>Creating fantasy situations (Lepper & Malone, 1987) </li></ul><ul><li>“ making the activity as distinct as possible from the so-called ‘paramount reality’ of everyday existence” is conducive to flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) </li></ul>
  19. 19. Curiosity <ul><li>Stimulating the sensory and cognitive curiosity of users (Lepper & Malone, 1987) </li></ul><ul><li>Curiosity is socially stimulated (Steinkuehler, 2004) </li></ul>
  20. 20. A new approach for knowledge transfer virtual worlds intrinsic motivation social aspects knowledge transfer ???
  21. 21. Questions to the audience <ul><li>Is my assumption correct that the motivation to use virtual worlds is largely intrinsic in nature? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it necessary to make a distinction between gaming and non-gaming virtual worlds in this respect? </li></ul><ul><li>How to deal with the problem that intrinsic motivation is subjective? (especially where it relates to the generation gap) </li></ul>