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Expertise and Collaboration in the Geographically Dispersed Organization," Organization Science (18:4), p 595

By Wai Fong Boh, Yuqing Ren, Sara Kiesler and Robert Bussjaeger


Suzanne Weisband for their advice in the development of the paper. We also thank employees at American Institutes for Research for their participation. Expertise and Collaboration in the Geographically Dispersed Organization The knowledge-based view of the firm has led to greater theoretical interest in how organizations integrate their knowledge resources embedded in people’s expertise. We examine the knowledge integration problem in geographically dispersed professional organizations in which experts work in project teams. From consideration of coordination costs and local ties, we argue that (1) the organization will develop specialized expertise within local sites, (2) managers will not cross geographic boundaries to staff a project unless bringing on a distant expert helps meet customer requirements, (3) cross-site connections help less needed members participate in dispersed projects, and (4) dispersed projects that have a better match of expertise generate higher net earnings. We tested these hypotheses using archival data and interviews in a geographically dispersed professional service organization. We examined how managers staffed 493 local and dispersed projects over a five-year period, and the financial outcomes of these projects. Managers created dispersed projects comparatively rarely; they did so when scarce expertise from other sites was needed to match customers ' project requirements. Dispersed project

Year: 2007
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