Briscoe, Tsai, and Brivot: How a KM system affects workplace relationships in a corporate law firm

Professor Dr. Forrest Briscoe and Professor Dr. Wenpin Tsai, both of Penn State University Smeal College of Business, and Professor Dr. Marion Brivot of l’Université Laval, will present a paper entitled The Dilemma of technology and relationships: How the introduction of a knowledge management system affects workplace relationships in a corporate law firm, at The Shrinking Pyramid: Implications for Law Practice and the Legal Profession, a conference to be held 13 April 2013, at Georgetown University Law Center, in Washington, DC.

Here is the abstract:

How does the introduction of new information technology in an organization affect workplace relationships and create value? A widely subscribed materialist perspective emphasizes the efficiency of technology use that reduces the reliance on interpersonal relationships in knowledge search. In contrast, a social construction perspective highlights the importance of people and their social interactions in shaping technology. Using client billings and personnel records from before and after the implementation of a knowledge management system (KMS) in a large law firm, we examine the effect of KMS use on the formation of new workplace ties and the creation of value. We find evidence that individuals enact the machine view: after downloading a distant person’s knowledge, the focal person becomes less likely to form a tie to her. Yet this behavior does not seem to create value; indeed, downloading distant people’s knowledge is also associated with a reduction in subsequent value creation. The latter finding appears more consistent with the socialized view, as do other findings that pre-existing social capital remains the best predictor of new tie formation, and pre-existing social capital also provides the best basis for using the KMS to create value. We relate these effects to overall changes observed after KMS implementation, and consider the implications for research on technology use and social capital in organizations.

For the full text of the paper, please contact the authors.

Thanks to Professor Briscoe for allowing me to post the abstract.

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