T4-10: Theoretical and analytical issues (1)

6 September 2019, 09:00–10:30

Chair: Markus Helfen


Understanding the antecedents of seeking advisers in team projects

The effects of relevance of previous work and multiple memberships on advice network centrality and the moderating role of TMS

Sunwoo Lee, Korea University

» Full paper: ilera-2019-paper-280-Lee.pdf

As increasing the importance of knowledge and information as the resources of organizations, managing and controlling specific knowledge of the organization is one of the key factors to maintain competitive advantage. In particular, due to the increased complexity and specialization of tasks, the need of systems and management to utilize their knowledge effectively has been extensively emphasized. In the organization, the utilizing expertise within team projects through organizational learning, communication systems, and knowledge management encourages knowledge sharing, cooperation, and mutual learning among employees that stimulates the creation of novel ideas and knowledge. In addition, it contributes to organizational performances and innovation success. Therefore, organizations need to concentrate on understanding how their knowledge is shared and what the process is to make knowledge flow more effectively, particularly in the team, which is formed to conduct their strategy in the short run and long run (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Okhuysen & Eisenhardt, 2002).

Utilizing expertise and knowledge has been explained by network perspective among individuals, business units and organizations because a wide variety of individuals’ networks lead to knowledge transfer and provide opportunities for all members to learn and collaborate with other colleagues (Tsai & Ghoshal, 1998). For instances, the knowledge networks of individuals as the sources of social capital have positive effects on individual promotion and organizational innovation and effectiveness (e.g., Brass, Galaskiewicz, Greve, & Tsai, 2004; Burt, 1997; Coleman, 1988; Dess & Shaw, 2001; Seibert, Kraimer, & Liden, 2001). Therefore, to integrate and utilize members’ expertise through the process of asking for advice, the team members have to know who has the valuable knowledge and information. However, in the prior studies with the team network, it has been focused on the effects of a structural feature of the given network on performance and the relationship between the position within this network and performance such as the closure network and structural holes (Coleman, 1988; Burt, 1997; Leana & Van Buren, 1999). Although the forming individual’s network is the behavior and intention of an actor to share knowledge and ask for information from a specific alters in a workplace, there is a lack of studies on how the network is built by actors and which predictors influence the forming ties of actors (Mehra, Kilduff, & Brass, 2001). Some researchers also proposed the limitation that it has a tendency to more concentrate on studying a network’s structural characteristics to predict performance rather than asking how individuals generate networks in organizations (Monge and Contractor, 2001).

In this paper, we describe the utilizing knowledge and information in project team with the view of the advice network and focus on the advice network centrality by examining when and why a member turns to others for seeking advice. The advice network define as the relationship with team members or organization members which is determined by the flow of expertise, knowledge, and information, in addition, the centrality of advice network is the degree of helping other team members and taking part in sharing knowledge (Sparrowe, Liden, Wayne, & Kraimer, 2001). Individuals who lie in this centrality tend to more share their knowledge than the other. In other words, the higher degree of his/her centrality signifies that other team members ask much more sharing his/her information and know-how in project teams.

First, a member’s relevance of previous work is related with advice network centrality. A member may consider quality of expertise that they receive when they seek advice from others (Nebus, 2006), and thus, the member will approach to other members who are perceived as experts. In addition, high status members (e.g., multiple memberships) are more likely to be in central positions in advice network. Expectation states theory suggest that people tend to infer ability of others from social characteristics, such that they expect high performance from high status members and defer their view to the high status members (Bunderson, 2003). Further, we present a contingency model in which the effects of expertise level and social status depend on the team context (e.g., transactive memory system; TMS). Transactive memory system is defined as shared mental model of knowing who knows what among team members (Wegner, 1987). Under the high level of TMS, expertise will become a more salient and accessible cue to team members, and as a result, they will be more attentive to the expert members. Yet, the low level of TMS may cause disagreement about who knows what and suffer identifying expert members in teams. This leads non expertise related cues to be more noticeable factor for members seeking advice. Therefore we propose the following hypotheses with the theoretical model.

  • H1: A member’s relevance of previous work will be positively related with advice network centrality.
  • H2: Multiple memberships of a team member will be positively related with advice network centrality.
  • H3: Transactive memory system will moderate the positive relationship between a member’s relevance of previous work and advice network centrality, such that the relationship will be stronger when TMS is high than when it is low.
  • H4: Transactive memory system will moderate the positive relationship between multiple memberships of a team member and advice network centrality, such that the relationship will be weaker when TMS is high than it is low.

Using multi-wave survey data from 26 project teams with 95 members, we analyze our theoretical model with hierarchical linear modeling (random intercept and random slop). The results show that a member’s relevance of previous work (Hypothesis 1) and the multiple memberships (Hypothesis 2) are positively associated with advice network centrality. Therefore, hypothesis 1 and 2 are supported. For testing for the moderator hypotheses, however, the hypothesis 3 and 4 are not supported. We could not found that the relationship the multiple membership and advice network centrality is weakened when TMS is high. Finally, in this paper, we discuss implications of these finding for research and practice.

The sub-systems shaping lean production and their managerial application in Italian work-integration social enterprises

Andrea Signoretti, University of Trento
Silvia Sacchetti, University of Trento

Lean production is seen to improve company’s competitiveness, while the managerial view over people’s deployment can differ. The strategic goals underlying lean application lead managers to emphasize two potential contrasting approaches in the management of the workforce: one centered on work intensity (cost reduction), the other on employee skills and involvement (quality goals). In the latter situation, further to lean technical sub-systems (just-in-time, quality management and total preventive maintenance), workers play a new role compared to taylor-fordist firms through the adoption of a bundle of integrated and complementary organizational and human resource management (HRM) practices (Kochan et al., 1997). Despite evidence indicates that inclusive organizational and HRM practices lead to mutual and collective benefits, their application is often partial. Several authors have highlighted that the limited or missing implementation of the soft practices of lean production is linked to profit pressures, and therefore to the focus on cost reduction as a strategic goal for lean implementation. When such pressures become high, managers and firms tend to privilege the coercive aspects of lean production by applying its technical sub-systems limiting or neglecting employee skill development and participation (Adler, 2012).

Lean production – as a concept and as a practice – has arisen in the context of conventional for-profit firms, being often affected by profit pressures as the main organisational objective. We argue that in Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISE) lean production can strategically privilege quality goals while continuing to pay attention to costs and efficiency. We focus on commercial WISE, in particular, where production organisation assumes central stage whereby representing an appropriate context for the application of lean production. These organizations, differently from conventional companies, are as a norm managed by workers and expected to design production around the special needs of weak categories and to be governed in participatory way (in the European context) because of their social mission. At the same time, efficiency has always been important in WISE. Differently from charities and foundations, they are run with entrepreneurial spirit, meaning that they value innovation, bear the economic risk of the activity, and strive for autonomy from public funding (Sacchetti and Borzaga, 2017). Given these WISE characteristics, lean production sub-systems and particularly the one related to human capital development can be appropriate for these organizations. On the one hand, lean production principles and practices can increase WISE efficiency assuring them higher competitiveness for their market-oriented production. On the other hand, the main goal of WISE remains related to the social dimension consisting of rehabilitating people with difficulties through participatory governance systems. The first research question thus consists of exploring if these theoretical reflections over quality-based lean production applications and WISE finds confirmation in the reality of these organizations.

Second, if lean production seems to fit WISE multiple goals from the conceptual viewpoint, it has to be seen how the sub-systems and practices shaping the model are possibly applied particularly in the organizational and HRM field. It is needed to understand what content the organizational and HRM practices characterizing lean production assume especially in the case of worker cooperatives that have the explicit social goal to include vulnerable people. What are the characteristics and functions these practices assume in WISE? This is the second research question that our study intends to explore.

The two research questions are inquired using an exploratory approach constituted by case-studies enriched by interviews with experts/practitioners. The methodology is suitable to our analysis where the aim is not to generalise conclusions, but to identify a new area of research and open questions supported by initial field-based exploratory research (Eishenhardt, 1989). The research design was conducted between 2015 and 2018. Three WISE have been purposively selected, following a logic of literal replication, as satisfying the concepts and dimensions under inquiry. This means that they had to apply lean production. We interviewed managers involved in lean production implementation at different levels for a total of around 20 interviews. Then, we interviewed two experts/practitioners.

Our initial exploratory findings suggest that lean production is increasingly drawing attention among commercial WISE to reinforce their efficiency, which represents the pre-condition to achieve their main goal of enhancing worker welfare and integrating people with difficulties into work (Battilana et al,. 2015). At the same time, the necessary social goals (i.e. the work-integration of disadvantaged people), may work as a barrier against making efficiency the absolute goal, and so it prevents isomorphism risks. Lean production allows to improve parameters of productivity, but first serves to settle work integration needs manifested by workers with difficulties, assuring their training (supplied by connected training WISE), involvement and motivation. Thus, the theoretical reflections over the possibility that quality-based lean production applications would result particularly suitable for WISE are proved valid by this exploratory research.

Second, the analysed technical, organizational and HRM systems implemented with particular reference to disadvantaged workers are reflected in these characteristics. Thereon, they assume peculiar characteristics and functions compared to for-profit firms. We can denote some ‘plasticity’ in some of these practices (an expression coined by Baccaro and Howell, 2017, for institutions), which means that they can be used by firms in the same form but with different characteristics to pursue rather different functions leading to different outcomes. However, areas of improvement are also found particularly in terms of disadvantaged people’s direct participation.


  • Adler, P. S. (2012). The Sociological Ambivalence of Bureaucracy: From Weber via Gouldner to Marx. Organization Science, 23(1), 244-66.
  • Baccaro, L. & Howell, C. (2017). Trajectories of Neoliberal Transformation. European Industrial Relations Since the 1970s. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Battilana, J., Sengul, M., Pache, A.-C. and Model, J. (2015). Harnessing Productive Tensions in Hybrid Organizations: The Case of Work Integration Social Enterprises. Academy of Management Journal, 58(6): 1658-1685.
  • Kochan, T. A., Lansbury, R. D. & MacDuffie, J. P. (1997). After Lean Production. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • Sacchetti, S. & Borzaga, C. (2017). “Social regeneration and cooperative institutions.” In Sacchetti, S., Christoforou, A. and Mosca, M. (eds.). Social Regeneration and Local Development: Cooperation, Social Economy and Public Participation. London and New York, Routledge.


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