Diskussionsbeiträge des Instituts für Management; 2005/27
This study extends theory and research on narrative-based knowledge sharing in
organizational communities. An empirical case study examines the role of narratives and
knowledge sharing in a virtual community of practice at Shell Int. Exploration and Production.
The focus of analysis is on how engineers facing urgent drilling problems make use of
narratives provided by peers in order to find solutions. Findings confirm on the one hand the importance of narratives for problem solving in this highly sophisticated and virtual context (former studies focussed exclusively on face to face interaction on the shop floor level). On the other hand, the results indicated that the narratives told do not represent a coherent entity but rather a complex variety which is likely to irritate and confuse users. The conclusion drawn is that organizations cannot refrain from qualifying narratives generated in their communities. It is necessary in order to get orientation out of narrative variety. Finally, suggestions for establishing evaluation procedures are provided. More generally, the findings of the paper stress the importance of reflecting on narratives.
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