Essays on the Contribution of Analogies and Cross-understanding to Knowledge Processing within Teams

Daniel Graff

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles

Abstract

Managers in multinational organizations often rely on functionally and nationally diverse teams to manage complex cognitive tasks across geographic and disciplinary boundaries. Although the intent is that these diverse teams will benefit from their extended knowledge resources, they often struggle to integrate the diverse individual perspectives. This has spurred researchers to study how diverse teams process the informational aspects of knowledge, aimed at developing improved understanding of the relationship between information processing and performance outcomes in functionally and nationally diverse teams. However, treating knowledge as information largely overlooks the effect of particular communication modes and member understanding of the task-specific mental models, preferences, beliefs and sensitivities of other team members ("cross-understanding"), which may affect knowledge processing and team performance outcomes. In this dissertation, I address these gaps by investigating the use of analogies as a communication mode that can enhance knowledge processing in teams, and cross-understanding as a mediator of this relationship. Through analogies, individuals can convey knowledge to others by linking it to a concept familiar to the other person. The degree to which members have cross-understanding will affect the team's ability to process knowledge effectively. I examine the use of analogies and the level of cross-understanding, and their relationships to team processes and performance outcomes, in four essays. These studies demonstrate that the use of analogies is positively related to the level of cross-understanding and that both analogies and cross-understanding have positive relationships with team knowledge processing variables and outcomes. This dissertation contributes to the team as information processor perspective in four key ways. First, it offers novel insight by examining how analogies used in communication affect knowledge processes and outcomes in teams. Second, this dissertation extends the existing literature on cross-understanding in teams, showing how it relates to team knowledge processing and outcomes. Third, the dissertation expands the current literature on teams as information processors by acknowledging the complexity of knowledge and distinguishing the construct from information. Finally, this thesis provides insight into how these processes unfold over time.
Translated title of the contributionEssays on the Contribution of Analogies and Cross-understanding to Knowledge Processing within Teams
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Rose, Elizabeth, Supervising Professor
  • Clark, Mark, Thesis Advisor
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6361-4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Keywords

  • analogy
  • cross-understanding
  • knowledge processing
  • diverse teams

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