Purpose – The paper proposes a model aiming at the explanation of the formation of coordinative knowledge practices in distributed work. Findings from a pilot study aiming at the preliminary testing of the model are presented and discussed. Design/methodology/approach – The explanatory model was developed by combining concepts and findings developed in studies of social capital, knowledge sharing and computer supported cooperative work. The empirical data were gathered in 2007-2008 in a multi-unit Finnish chemical company production site. The methods used were structured observation of work processes, semi-structured interviews and a web-based questionnaire. Findings – The model suggested that coordinative knowledge practices are shaped by four major factors: work coupling, social capital, spatio-temporality and affordances of collaboration technologies. The empirical study showed that these concepts can be successfully applied in empirical research to better understand and support the development of coordinative knowledge practices. Practical implications – The findings can be utilized in the analysis and assessment of coordinative knowledge practices between distributed work groups in multi-unit organizations. The findings can also be used in the development of solutions for knowledge sharing and communication in distributed work organizations and communities. Originality/value – The model developed provides a novel perspective for the study of knowledge practices in the context of distributed group work. The model proposes that varying degrees in work coupling intensity, social capital, spatio-temporality and affordances of collaborative technologies explain the emergence of coordinative knowledge practices. The study shows how coordinative knowledge practices can be studied empirically. The empirical study resulted in a typology of coordinative knowledge practices.
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