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How to Stay Aligned Rather than Becoming Fragmented: The Importance of Knowledge Management in Flexible Working
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.), Organization and management.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Although the fundamental settings for the global business landscape has evolved throughout history in areas such as social, economic, political and demographical trends, companies  are still experiencing the same challenges in performing within the traditional criteria: profitability, customer satisfaction, market share, and innovation. Corporations have to constantly adapt to the changing market (Microsoft, 2005).

In the current economic climate an increasingly more common change management program, has become flexible working. Flexible working in accordance with Oseland and Webber (2012) implies for many corporations a radical change on the entire organizational structure. What characterizes flexible working is the top management support for employees to be flexible regarding their working hours and working locations as long as they do their job.

However, the flexible working change management program is not entirely without risks. Working remotely, also known as teleworking or telecommuting, may cause negative social implications among the workforce and could in the long-term lead to cultural cannibalization(Bailey and Kurland, 1999). In order to respond to risk of organizational fragmentation in flexible work systems that are embossed by distance, previous research show the importance  of managing the intellectual assets in order to promote collaboration and communication (Fontaine et al, 2000). Through an on-site case study at Microsoft Sweden, a new adopter of flexible working, this paper aimed to identify the factors that affect knowledge management in a flexible working organization. Recommendations were also to be made on how a flexible working organization should respond to the risk of organizational fragmentation.

The qualitative study at Microsoft Sweden, including 18 semi-structured interviews and a review of previous research, show that the following factors are driving knowledge management in flexible working companies: distance, performance measurement, enabling technology, the office, the structure in codification and the alignment.

This research study shows that top managers in flexible working companies must work to spread awareness regarding the importance of knowledge management in flexible working success. Moreover, training must be distributed to employees on the what knowledge should be transferred, how it is done, why it is done, and ultimately top management must foster a culture that care why they are needed to share their knowledge. Mentorship programs are recommended for new recruits. Another important factor is the need for revising the performance measurement process. Improperly defined measurements will lead the organization to succumb to cannibalizing internal competition in flexible working. The research have also shown that flexible working companies need to refine their codification structure and embrace a codification process that actually works as a knowledge sharing tool instead of individual note-taking. Top management can’t allow any lacking in the usage of the flexible working enabling technology. There are an increasing need of team building in flexible working and top management must be sure to invest in developing team spirit and connectedness among the workforce. However, the most important recommendation is that leaders must lead as example on how employees should work in a flexible working organization, and more importantly, how they should share their knowledge. The research suggests that if the recommendations are followed, this will help flexible working organizations stay aligned rather than become fragmented. Future research include, a larger scale study regarding the drivers of knowledge management in flexible working, and an in-depth study regarding each of the produced factors: the distance, the performance measurement, the enabling technology, the office, the structure in codification and the leadership. A more comprehensive action plan on how to respond to each of factors needs to be developed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 55 p.
Keyword [en]
flexible, flexibility, working, smart working, telework, teleworking
National Category
Gender Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-147633OAI: diva2:731214
Available from: 2014-07-02 Created: 2014-07-01 Last updated: 2014-07-02Bibliographically approved

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