All Aboard the Knowledge Express…Next Stop Communication Station

The Communication Infrastructure Theory has always been theory that has peaked my interest. With the various facets of knowledge management now in mind, analyzing this theory once more could help draw an even deeper understand of both field. Much of theory focuses a healthy portion of explanation on the importance of storytelling networks which exists in coordination within the communication infrastructure of a community. This infrastructure includes a communication action context which is described as the dimensions of openness and closedness. These dimensions are not only physical by nature but are also determined on a sociocultural, psychological, economic, and technological basis.

“Individuals and communities are situated in different environments – some environments afford easy connections to necessary and useful communication resources, while others make it difficult to access resources to achieve individual and community goals.” (Hayden & Ball-Rokeach, 2007, p.204).

This quote in particular sparked my own thoughts on our society of present day existing within the ever accessible Internet age. It would seem as though that with each passing year information and resources become more and more accessible to more and more of society. The process does initially have a slower trickle down effect for certain areas of both urban and rural areas, but in the grander scheme of society the idea that people are truly denied access to resources and information to build and maintain a healthy communication infrastructure is in many ways an arguable notion.

However, in regards to environments where there are implicit and explicit levels of trust, as well as mistrust, connections could in fact be limited. Even more so in environments where a crisis has occurred. Both of the environments are explained further in articles by Wasko and Faraj (2005) and Ibrahim and Allen (2005).

I have blogged about several other branches of virtual communities and how they play into knowledge management processes but I have yet to explain what Wasko and Faraj (2005) refer to as networks of practice. Much of these networks communicative tendencies involve open and voluntary communication with strangers. Wasko and Faraj (2005) explain,

“Knowledge seekers have no control over who responds to their questions or the quality of the responses. Knowledge contributors have no assurances that those they are helping will ever return the favor, and lurkers may draw upon the knowledge of others without contributing anything in return.” (p. 37)

This same shroud of ambiguity between knowledge seekers and knowledge contributors can be seen in instances of crisis. Ibrahim and Allen (2005) provide an example of crisis management and how crisis responders face similar challenges compared to individuals who are a part of networks of practice…

“Trust takes time to develop whereas emergency responders may be assembled in an ad hoc manner, and some team members may not have necessarily known or worked with each other long enough for trust to develop.” (p. 1918)

The Communication Infrastructure Theory is highly applicable to everyday life and offers a lens in order to better understand and interpret community behavior and knowledge management trends. The connections to both trust and crisis management also proved to be very interesting. It’s still pretty amazing how many theories and concepts connect to one another and I’m sure I will discover even more to come.

References:

Wasko, M. M. and Faraj, S. (2005). Why should i share? examining social capital and knowledge contribution in electronic networks of practice. MIS Quarterly, 29(1):35-57.

Hassan Ibrahim, N. and Allen, D. (2012). Information sharing and trust during major incidents: Findings from the oil industry. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 63(10):1916-1928.

Hayden, C. and Ball-Rokeach, S. J. (2007). Maintaining the digital hub: locating the community technology center in a communication infrastructure. New Media & Society, 9(2):235-257.

Weick, K.E., & Roberts, K.H. (1993). Collective mind in organizations: Heedful interrelating on flight decks. Administrative Science Quarterly, 38(3), 357–381.

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