To whom group members turn to for judgments about knowledge importance – a study

[Deutscher Titel: An wen wenden sich Gruppenmitglieder für zur Beruteilung über die Wichtigkeit von Wissen – eine Studie (Text übersetzen: Deutsch)]

Sze-Sze Wong
Judgments about knowledge importance: The roles of social referents and network structure
Human Relations, Vol. 61, No. 11, 1565-1591 (2008)

Abstract: As division of labor in a group can often lead to differences in perceptions about the importance of different knowledge bases to a group task, these differences can hinder the integration of different knowledge to solve task problems in a group. This study examines the social referents that group members turn to for judgments about knowledge importance, and the extent to which the relative influence of each referent depends on the group-level social network structure. The findings indicate that group members are more likely to have shared judgments with their cohesive and structurally equivalent referents within their advice network, and the strength of social influence from their cohesive and structurally equivalent referents is likely to depend on the advice network density at the group-level. However, there was no significant association in judgment similarity between group members and their central referents within the advice network. Overall, this study suggests that while social influence (in its most straightforward form) occurs between pairs of individuals, the strength of influence of a social referent is dependent on how social cues are distributed within the group’s network structure. Theoretical and managerial implications for research on shared mental models and network theory of social influence are discussed.

Key Words: advice network • groups • knowledge management • network theory • social influence • social referents

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