This morning we are here to have this presentation on ENHANCING COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE KNOWLEDGE CONVERGENCE THROUGH ONLINE OLLABORATION ACTIVITIES A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Management with Specialization in Information Systems and Technology
I want to say a big morning and thank you to Dr. Amason for working so tirelessly with me throughout this often difficult journey and to Drs. Cecil and Kille for their valuable input throughout this doctoral process. I am Bernard Henry, a doctoral learner.
I will attempt to cover in as much detail as possible within the given timeframe the following research topics: The Problem Statement, the Purpose of the Study, the Research Method and Design, Research Questions, Literature Review, the Population and Sample, Data Collection, Results, Analysis, Discussions, the Significance of the findings to Leadership, its Limitations, and Recommendations. Please note that the questions precede the references.
The problem statement arise out of the possible need that the firm may be experiencing degraded performance in the absence of knowledge convergence possible through the effective use of online collaborative activities. Specifically, the lack of data in this regard makes it seem reasonable to investigate if online group collaborative activities are at all possible within the given situatedness of the firm to improve problem-solving and decision-making skills that may counterbalance any degraded performance that the firm may be experiencing.
Such concern has led to this mixed methods sequential explanatory research to investigate whether un-moderated or moderated group-directed participation is better suited for knowledge creation and convergence within an online CoP.
To fulfill the research purpose within the particular situatedness of the firm, given its population size and the sampling method available to this researcher, this Sequential Explanatory Research Design was chosen as the best method available that could combine a QUAN and QUAL study using tools such as, Pre & Post Test MC Questionnaire by way of a Quasi-experimental Design and through Scenarios and Interviews by way of an Exploratory Single Case Study adjudged by Qualitative Content Analysis and the Constant Comparative Method respectively.
To accomplish these ambitious tasks, the following research questions arose to satisfy the QUAN portion of the research: What is the difference between an un-moderated and a moderated online CoP collaboration group's pre- and post-test scores after participating in an online scenario-based discussion to improve problem-solving skills? What is the difference between an un-moderated and a moderated online CoP collaboration group's pre- and post-test scores after participating in an online scenario-based discussion to improve decision-making skills?
In addition, answers to the following QUAL questions were pursued: What are the perceptions of un-moderated online CoP collaboration group members regarding their learning potential for building their problem-solving skills? What are the perceptions of moderated online CoP collaboration group members regarding their learning potential for building their problem-solving skills? What are the perceptions of un-moderated online CoP collaboration group members regarding their learning potential for building their decision-making abilities? What are the perceptions of moderated online CoP collaboration group members regarding their learning potential for building their decision-making abilities?
In order to establish a solid foundation for the research, the existing literature was exhaustively examined to ascertain what accredited scholars and researchers have published in this area. This includes 134 Peer-reviewed scholarly journals among other sources of interest. The works of authors such as, Bass, Brown & Duguid, Caldwell et al., Creswell, Davenport, Draper, Skinner, and Roberts, are only a minute list of authors whose work have contributed to this research.
The sampling frame was selected on the basis of convenience sampling of 55 CoP individuals located in a small Jamaican law firm. Three partners were selected using random selection to conduct a pilot test of the research instruments, technology, interview questions, and scenarios for applicability, relevance, accuracy, and reliability prior to conducting the full blown research. The pilot study found no defects. Thereafter, a general invitation was issued to the remaining 52 CoP personnel. 19 persons responded positively to the invitation of which 15 persons signed the informed consent form. These 15 persons were randomly assigned to one of two groups; moderated and un-moderated.
Data collection occurred over four phases starting with the online multiple-choice questionnaire that was followed by participating in the online cases/scenarios discussions. Stage 3 involved retaking the online multiple-choice questionnaire and the final stage involve face-to-face interviews with participants.
The results from the four data collection interactions are as follows: Participation in the pre- multiple-choice questionnaire produced means of 46.67% and 40.00% for the moderated and un-moderated groups respectively and a Levene’s observed significance p-value of .995 whereas participation in the post multiple-choice questionnaire produced means of 70.00% and 58.00% and a Levene’s observed significance p-value of .021.
The moderated and un-moderated groups have both unique and congruent ideas, which were generated from their participation in the online scenarios. Congruence were observed across groups in themes such as, compliance, the creation of policies and procedures, disclosure, investigation, making decisions, and providing feedback. Differences were observed in themes such as, the level of feedback, external rules and regulations, and security.
The interviews were assessed by comparing the thematic content of participants experiences. In carrying out this exercise, it became evident through inductive reasoning that certain ideas predominated each person’s responses, such as the general experience that persons shared in participating in the research, the learning they received through their participation, the positive and moderate state of the experience, the need to use a leader to drive the learning process, and the positive contribution gained from the activities to both solving problems and making decisions.
In assessing the findings, one may surmise that the one-way between-groups analysis of variance, in itself, may have provided insufficient evidence to reveal a reliable effect between moderated and un-moderated online group collaboration for improving either decision-making skills or problem-solving abilities because of the small size of N. In addition, in a mixed methods research, all the facts must be considered to derive any reasonable conclusion as noted by Field. In taking the entire QUAN QUAL data analysis into consideration therefore, one observe much congruence in improved performance through the post-test scores of both groups increasing by μ = 23.33 and μ = 18.00 respectively, and with the moderated group outperforming the un-moderated group by 12%. This performance outcome is in keeping with that of Draper and Capdeferro & Romero.
In fact, there were obvious consistencies with the themes and with word usage in discussing the cases/scenarios, such as, it made me think about compliance with existing rules, it made me consider new policies and procedures, and it made me think about the need for investigations.
Consistencies with themes were strenghtened through the interview process in statements such as, the experience was good for me and the learning environment was acceptable to me. Thus, the triangulated analysis of the increased mean scores on the post-test multiple choice questionnaire after participants discussed the cases/scenarios, the confluence of ideas that emerged from discussing the online cases/scenarios, and the thematic contents that eminated from the interviews would infer that both groups; moderated and un-moderated, may have learned from the collaborative exercise.
When one considers that knowledge convergence extends organizations' knowledge abilities through individuals shared reasoning and tacit knowledge amplification as Nonaka & Von Krogh pointed out, then one is obliged to accept its role as a means of creating value for the firm. As indicated earlier through the triangulated analysis of the post-test mean scores, the confluence of ideas that emerged from discussing the online cases/scenarios, and the thematic contents that eminated from the interviews, then one must conclude that the process has produced knowledge convergence.
To that extent therefore, online group collaboration may build or enhance the firm’s legal talents that will possibly minimize any degraded professional judgments that the firm may be experiencing as confirmed by the triangulated analysis of the research data.
Now what does this all mean to the firm’s leaders? When one recalls that leaders direct businesses and that systems are in place to advance processes, outcome, and opportunities as Foon & Nair pointed out, one will recognize that leaders who understand the prevailing modus operandi are more likely to apply relevant and timely decisions to existing situations and circumstances as Bass and Davenport noted. Therefore, the firm’s leaders should be encouraged to incorporate online knowledge convergence activities, especially those resulting from actions aimed at building or enhancing decision-making abilities and problem-solving skill so that the potential for degraded performance within the organization may be minimized.
Please note that the research findings are intended for the scrutinized firm and should therefore not be generalized to other institutions without the appropriate suitability testing for such organizations, notwithstanding the similarity of outcome with Draper’s study. In addition, the research uses content analysis, which has certain limitations. Neuendorf noted that the only statistical test for codes is simple percentage. Other concerns may include the medium of the message, operationalizing concepts, coding protocols competence, and the reliability of the coding schemes applied. Also, the scope limited participants engaged within the online CoP exercise to specific activities that require peculiar skill-sets. Thus, its findings cannot reasonably be generalized to instances and institutions that engage different sets of skills and abilities.
I therefore conclude this presentation with a few recommendations. First, the firm's leaders should place a high regard on actions and operations that support moderated online group-related activities that is likely to build knowledge convergence within the firm. Second, because of the peculiarities associated with the running of a law firm, it would be unwise to generalize this research findings to dissimiliar situations and circumstances. Third, any attempt at generalizability of these findings require additional research using other CoP professionals, organizations, and settings.