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Knowledge work productivity in distributed teams

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PurposeKnowledge work (KW) is a well-researched topic. However, KW is difficult to measure and little consensus has been reached on elements that affect knowledge work productivity on a team level. The current theories neglect teams working in distributed geographical areas. The purpose of the paper is to integrate recent literature on knowledge work productivity (KWP) in distributed teams and give an overview of the elements affecting it. Design/methodology/approachThe paper presents an overview of research performed in the field of knowledge work productivity. The authors integrate theories of different fields of management theory (knowledge management, intellectual capital and learning), and work and organizational psychology. This paper answers three questions: What is knowledge work? What is knowledge work productivity? Which elements hinder or enable knowledge work productivity in distributed teams of global technology companies? FindingsThe authors define the crucial elements that either hinder or enable KWP: team tasks, team structure and processes, the physical, virtual and social workspaces as well as organizational context. The paper presents an integrative model of KWP in distributed teams of global technology companies. Practical implicationsDistributed teams are common in global companies. By understanding the elements that affect KWP, companies can stimulate or decrease specific elements in order to improve productivity of their distributed knowledge workers. Originality/valueThis paper integrates theories from different disciplines in order to create an understanding about knowledge work and its productivity for further research.

Keywords: Knowledge management; Productivity rate; Remote workers; Team working

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 23, 2009

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