Knowledge Flows in a Highly Distributed Community of Practice

11-3-2.jpg
11-3-2.jpg

Knowledge Flows in a Highly Distributed Community of Practice

9.95

Author(s): Ron Caro; Douglas Harvey; Lisa Mentz; John Quinn
No pages: 7
Year: 2008
Article ID: 11-3-2
Keywords: command systems
Format: Electronic (PDF)

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Abstract: This study describes the effects that knowledge flows had on a community of practice (CoP) that consisted of a highly distributed network of monitors tasked with maintaining a very large, dynamic, and complex communication network during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This communication network spanned hundreds of square miles and supported U.S. forces and coalition forces that went from 700 to over 80,000 personnel in four months. Prior to the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, these network monitors were communicating and sharing information via different media in combination with an obsolete physical logbook-based knowledge management System (KMS). This caused the CoP to be reactive in maintaining this vast communication network. In addressing this problem, the First Marine Expeditionary Force communication Marines developed a virtual real-time KMS that collected over 8,000 log entries in 5 months. This KMS, called the MEL (Marine Air Ground Task Force Communication Control Center Event Log) was utilized in raising and troubleshooting network issues that are prevalent in maintaining any large communication network. Triangulation and analysis of the multiple interviews, audiovisual material, archival records, and documents formed the basis for the four findings of this study. First, the CoP utilized the MEL as an initial troubleshooting forum and as a starting point for sharing information and problem solving strategies regarding the operation of the network. Second, the CoP did not display social interactions in the use of the MEL throughout the study. Third, the CoP significantly relied on other media outside the use of the MEL, making the MEL one of a number of ways to communicate within the CoP. Fourth, the reliance on other forms of communications increased during the stress of combat operations.