New forms of knowing and collaborating

In recent years, collaboration, sociality, knowledge sharing, and innovating has become increasingly mediated by technology or has entirely moved online. As the online setting has become ubiquitous and even backgrounded, the question of how we engage in various collaborations, participate in knowledge communities, or build organizations may need to be re-evaluated.

Both in research and practice, there are questions abound about how to build new organizational forms that free participants from the confines of traditional bureaucratic structures, how to turbocharge social or open innovation in order to solve societal grand challenges, how to participate in online knowledge communities to produce novel knowledge flows, and how engaging in the flows of innovation ecosystems leads to novel forms of innovating. These new collaborative possibilities are highly evident in Science where we are moving from the classical Edisonian (hypothesis-driven investigator in lab) model to a more collective one, where technology is enrolled to move us to ‘Science 2.0’ with open infrastructures and collective forms of knowing.

Some of our active research projects:

  • Open science precepts such as open data and open research material can foster collaboration and open theorizing in the Sciences. We argue that management and organization scholars can similarly share concepts, framings, methodologies, theoretical relations, and case examples in order to benefit new theory development. This includes a publication with Paolo Leone and Saku Mantere.

  • If Science is to evolve and benefit from the possibilities offered by shared data consortia and digital infrastructure, then new scientific practices related to the free sharing of data, results, and research materials need to be put in place. Yet, this transformation suffers from collective action problems that effectively hinder change. Based on ongoing field work of an open Canada-wide Neuroscience initiative as well as an American cancer genome data platform, we find that resolving collaboration dilemmas involves significant effort to build digital infrastructure, pipelines, and novel ways of working. Our analysis thus tracks the emerging and reciprocal relationship between novel forms of organizing and the production of scientific knowledge. This is an ongoing collaboration with Alberto Cambrosio, Ellen Abrams, and Paolo Leone.

  • Online innovation communities are widespread but how knowledge is generated on them is little understood. One dominant view is that they operate as communities of practice where most of the knowledge is produced by central (core) participants. On the other hand, researchers taking an open innovation perspective have found that valuable contributions come from the community’s periphery. Using data from StackExchange online innovation communities, we develop and test a model that establishes what forms of embeddedness are most important for knowledge contribution. This includes work with Hani Safadi and Steven Johnson.

  • For many decades now, bureaucracy has been described as ripe for replacement by new forms of organizing. Yet more than 90 percent of organizations remained mired in bureaucratic ways. Can we develop novel forms of organizing that are more participative, egalitarian, and non-hierarchical? Can digital technologies fluidify or even replace existing aspects of structure? Today, exciting opportunities exist when enterprises are adapting holographic forms of organization that emphasize self-government, shared accountability, engaged purpose, and self-organizing teams. This ethnographic field work investigates how existing organisations are experiencing the transformation. This includes ongoing field work with Simon Altmejd.

  • Open Science is an emerging practice of organizing collaborative research characterized by the precepts of open data, open research material, and open access. It is a major change from traditional norms of Science where researchers compete with each other for advantage, credit, promotion, publication, and recognition. Based on a 30-month ethnographic study focused on the design and construction of a digital infrastructure for Open Neuroscience, we find that collaboration was facilitated with the development of digital knowledge objects that allow a clearer allocation of credit and facilitate collective participation with data and methods. As a result, new collaboration practices highly embedded with sociomaterial digital objects are transforming the production, communication, and dissemination of scientific knowledge. This includes work with Paolo Leone.

Some representative papers: