Engineering Serendipity into Social and Knowledge Networks in Large Enterprises

Wendy Ham, Ph.D. Student in Management

Abstract: An organization’s ability to innovate depends to a large extent on its ability to allow organizational learning to occur internally. It is not enough that knowledge gets imported into the organization; knowledge needs to also diffuse within the organization. In this study, we analyze usage data from an enterprise social networking technology and seek to bring a greater resolution to the current understanding of knowledge diffusion through social networks. One novel feature of this social networking technology is that it is designed to encourage serendipitous connections. We ask three main questions: (1) How do social network attributes influence knowledge diffusion? (2) How do knowledge network attributes influence social network? (3) What are some characteristics of the diffusion process itself? For example, does diffusion typically occur unidirectionally or does it tend to happen as an exchange process? Are some types of knowledge more likely to propagate than others?