Intergroup knowledge integration: the role of meta-knowledge and boundary spanners
Intergroup knowledge integration involves the acquisition, processing and use of knowledge across group boundaries. Intergroup knowledge integration is a critical source of competitive advantage in modern organizations.
Previous research shows an important role for so-called boundary spanners to promote knowledge integration between groups. Boundary spanners are individuals who proactively connect the organization’s internal networks with external sources of information. But previous research does not answer the question of what makes individual boundary spanners more effective in promoting intergroup knowledge integration.
Integrating literature on boundary tension with theories of group information, the researchers hypothesized that the effect of individual boundary spanners on knowledge integration between groups depends on the level of meta-knowledge of the boundary spanners. In other words, knowledge of who knows what within their respective groups.
In this study, researchers find general support for their predictions in a survey of 457 technical consultants from 22 interdependent business units within an organization. And additional criterion analyses confirm the material importance of intergroup knowledge integration for group performance.
Journal of Management Studies – issue 59 – 2022