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Capabilities and Roles of Enterprise Wikis in Organizational Communication

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Purpose: The article alerts technical communicators to wiki technology, an emerging new medium that allows dispersed groups to create shared content via collaborative editing and different-time communication. Wiki-based collaborative content creation enables new communication practices and thereby challenges several assumptions of existing media choice theories.

Method: Analysis of empirical evidence from 32 published case descriptions and reports to evaluate wiki technology in a corporate context based on the defining characteristics of three media choice theories (i.e., media richness theory, theory of media synchronicity, and common ground theory).

Results: Wikis meet or exceed capabilities of several other communication and collaboration media, and thus provide a credible alternative to other business communication technologies currently in use. Further, distinct media capabilities of wikis are not fully represented by current media choice theories, suggesting the need to extend media choice theories to recognize these unique capabilities.

Conclusion: The unique features of enterprise wikis enable new collaboration practices and challenge some of the core theoretical assumptions of media choice theories. The refactoring capability of wikis is identified as a unique feature that enables new forms of collaboration and communication in organizations. An implementation that wishes to successfully leverage wiki-enabled collaboration opportunities must carefully consider challenges of human interaction such as free-riding, or conflict of values.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-02-01

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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