Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
In the competitive world of business, more challenges than ever are putting higher pressure on enterprises to become more time-efficient, increase the quality of their offer, and at the same time keep the costs low. For the knowledge-intense business of software development the pressure becomes even higher. With the resources stored in the mind of people, managing the input becomes a very difficult task. By all the different knowledge that needs to be integrated among all different people, knowledge sharing has been regarded as a competitive and crucial tool for software development organizations to become more efficient. Nevertheless, initiatives that aim to support knowledge sharing have failed to become integrated in the daily activities. It has resulted in additional research on what elements impact knowledge sharing. On that basis the purpose of the report was formulated as follows: The purpose of the study is to analyze how influencing factors can be supported on a daily level, in order to enhance knowledge sharing in software development organizations.
From existing literature four main factors were identified to affect knowledge sharing in different ways: individual motivation, social ties, virtual teams and the fit between the initiatives and the organizational context. In addition some project processes that are considered routine activities in the agile methodology also showed to affect knowledge sharing with the most visible and concrete ones consisting of daily meetings, retrospectives and pair programming. To be able to answer the purpose of this study semi-structured interviews were conducted in the case company IFS. The findings demonstrated how the main factors and project processes supported knowledge sharing on a routine level, and also showed upon the interplay between the main factors.
All four main factors affected knowledge sharing on a daily level to different extents. The social ties and the virtual teams were supported by the agile project processes in a direct manner. In particular the retrospectives were highly important for virtual teams, since they served as complement to the essential informal forums that more easily are created for collocated teams. Furthermore it is concluded that fixed teams are more preferable than interchanging teams. However, directing support for sharing knowledge regarding teams’ work procedures decreases the impeding effect interchanging teams have on knowledge sharing. Furthermore it is concluded that a general individual motivation for sharing knowledge is not enough to make it a part of the daily work. Different types of knowledge result in different degree of motivation, and are therefore shared to different extents. Organizations need to separate different types of knowledge and demonstrate the importance of sharing each and one of them, in order to increase the individual motivation to share all of them. In particular, organizations need to increase the motivation for employees to share the types that are not directly related to solving work tasks and non-complex knowledge. In addition, the study showed that the individual motivation is the one among the four identified factors that works as a prerequisite to enhance knowledge sharing on a daily level. Regardless of the strength of the social ties and the presence of virtual teams, a low level of individual motivation hinders knowledge sharing to even occur. Therefore, the individual motivation must be enhanced by organizations in order to succeed with embedding knowledge sharing as a natural part of software development.
2012. , 83 p.