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The Visibility Paradox


The Visibility Paradox Summary

This dissertation investigates the ways in which distributed workers in a global high-tech organization engage with the affordances of enterprise social media for their everyday knowledge sharing practices. Drawing on the scholarship of process of knowing, I elaborate on how communication visibility, enabled by the use of enterprise social media, is closely intertwined with the situational, relational, and material aspects of knowing. To offer an in-depth understanding of emerging knowledge sharing practices among globally distributed workers, I employed a mixed-methods approach analyzing different types of data including quantitative, social network, and qualitative data. The findings highlight the visibility paradox: communication visibility facilitates knowledge sharing, yet brings into high relief existing knowledge disparities among diverse groups, which in turn reinforces status differentials. Illustrating the intended and unintended consequences of technology adoption, this study disentangles the complex interrelationships among visibility, status hierarchies, and process of knowing. Although an enterprise social media platform was implemented to improve knowledge sharing across borders, emerging usage patterns ironically contributed to exacerbating knowledge disparities, which subsequently reproduced status asymmetry in the organization. This study builds a granular understanding of the paradoxical influences of visibility on knowledge sharing by presenting three central themes: knowledge (awareness of knowledge conversations vs. awareness of knowledge disparities), connectivity (connections as resources vs. connections as challenges), and power (leveraging panoptic effect vs. controlled by panoptic effect). These three constructs of knowledge, connectivity, and power are important status signals that are shaped by the visibility effects. This dissertation contributes to expanding the scholarship of organizational knowledge and paradox as well as extends practical insight into the management of technology, knowledge, and diversity in a global organization.

Author : Heewon Kim

Publisher : Rutgers University

Published : 2016

ISBN-10 :

ISBN-13 :

Number of Pages : 218 Pages

Language : en


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