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Approaches to sharing knowledge in group problem structuring

Shaw, D. and Ackermann, F. and Eden, C. (2003) Approaches to sharing knowledge in group problem structuring. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 54 (9). pp. 936-948. ISSN 0160-5682

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Abstract

Problem-structuring techniques are an integral aspect of 'Soft-OR'. SSM, SAST, Strategic Choice, and JOURNEY Making, all depend for their success on a group developing a shared view of a problem through some form of explicit modelling. The negotiated problem structure becomes the basis for problem resolution. Implicit to this process is an assumption that members of the group share and build their knowledge about the problem domain. This paper explores the extent to which this assumption is reasonable. The research is based on detailed records from the use of JOURNEY Making, where it has used special purpose Group Support software to aid the group problem structuring. This software continuously tracks the contributions of each member of the group and thus the extent to which they appear to be 'connecting' and augmenting their own knowledge with that of other members of the group. Software records of problem resolution in real organisational settings are used to explore the sharing of knowledge among senior managers. These explorations suggest a typology of knowledge sharing. The implications of this typology for problem structuring and an agenda for future research are considered.