Social Capital and Knowledge Integration in Digitally Enabled Teams
2008, Information Systems Research
L. P. Robert, A. R. Dennis, M. K. Ahuja
To understand the impact of social capital on knowledge integration and performance within digitally enabled teams, we studied 46 teams who had a history and a future working together. All three dimensions of their social capital (structural, relational, and cognitive) were measured prior to the team performing two tasks in a controlled setting, one face-to-face and the other through a lean digital network. Structural and cognitive capital were more important to knowledge integration when teams communicated through lean digital networks than when they communicated face-to-face; relational capital directly impacted knowledge integration equally, regardless of the communication media used by the team. Knowledge integration, in turn, impacted team decision quality, suggesting that social capital influences team performance in part by increasing a team's ability to integrate knowledge. These results suggest that team history may be necessary but not sufficient for teams to overcome the problems with the use of lean digital networks as a communication environment. However, team history may present a window of opportunity for social capital to develop, which in turn allows teams to perform just as well as in either communication environment.