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Knowledge sharing through face-to-face communication and labour productivity: Evidence from British workplaces

Salis, S and Williams, AM (2008) Knowledge sharing through face-to-face communication and labour productivity: Evidence from British workplaces In: The 9th European Conference on Knowledge Management, 2008-09-04 - 2008-09-05.

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Managing internal knowledge effectively is regarded as crucial for organisations that wish to achieve competitive advantage. The knowledge management literature advocates the importance of adopting social networks based on face-to-face communication (FTFC), i.e. networks based on employees' physical proximity and verbal interaction, in order to best enhance knowledge sharing among workers. The human resources management (HRM) literature indicates specific people practices whose implementation leads to better organisational performance. However, this literature has widely neglected to study empirically the link between intra-organisational knowledge sharing and workplace productivity. We attempt to fill this gap by investigating whether workplaces adopting HRM practices that enhance FTFC among employees are more productive than workplaces that do not use such arrangements. This hypothesis is tested on a sample of around 500 British trading establishments included in a dataset resulting after linking the Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS) 2004 and the Annual Business Inquiry (ABI). This dataset includes information on both HRM practices and value-added per employee. Overall, our findings suggest that sharing knowledge through FTFC enhances organisational productivity: we find indeed a positive statistical association between value-added per employee and FTFC in all the social networks established through the five HRM practices considered, namely problemsolving groups, teams, meetings made up of senior managers and employees, meetings of line managers and employees, and committees of managers and employees' representatives (specifically, this association is found for teams and problem-solving groups involving a moderate percentage of employees at the workplace). However, this result holds only provided that workplaces adopt FTFC on a continuous basis. This suggests that either knowledge needs time to be shared, understood and processed in order to produce observable gains to organisations, or that it may take time for individuals to build up the trust and empathy needed to fruitfully share their knowledge with each other.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors :
Salis, S
Date : 2008
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 16 May 2017 15:18
Last Modified : 23 Jan 2020 14:38

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