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Thinking in Circles: Exploring the Role of Network Effects in KMS Implementation (in press)

J.P. Bansler & E. Havn

Reference & Publication Year
Information Technology and People, 2004

One of the key themes in knowledge management is the role of information systems designed to facilitate the sharing and reuse of knowledge – often referred to as knowledge repositories or organizational memory systems. However, the intended users of such systems are often reluctant to use them, and implementation failures are common. This study seeks to develop a better
understanding of the complex dynamics of adoption and use of knowledge repositories. We outline a theoretical perspective on the implementation of knowledge repositories in organizations, which highlights the essential role of interdependencies among users, feedback loops and network effects.
Using an exploratory case study as an illustration, we argue that knowledge repositories exhibit strong network effects and that these create positive feedback loops that complicate the implementation process. Our conclusion is that the concept of network effects offers an interesting and useful analytic perspective for understanding the implementation of knowledge repositories in
organizations. Implications of using this theoretical lens for both research and practice are discussed.