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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Kenan Institute 2023 Grand Challenge: Workforce Disrupted
Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
Mar 17, 2021

Socio-Technical Affordances for Large-Scale Collaborations: Introduction to a Virtual Special Issue


In this special issue, we review 14 articles published in Organization Science over the past 25 years examining large-scale collaborations (LSCs) tasked with knowledge dissemination and innovation. LSCs involve sizeable pools of participants carrying out a common mission such as developing open-source software, detector technologies, complex architecture, encyclopedias, medical cures, or responses to climate change. LSCs depend on technologies because they are often geographically distributed, incorporate multiple and diverse epistemic perspectives. How such technologies need to be structured and appropriated for effective LSC collaborations has been researched in piecemeal fashion by examining a single technology used in a single collaboration context with little opportunity for generalization. Studies have tended to black box technology use even though they acknowledge such uses to be critical to the LSC operation. We unveil the black box surrounding LSC collaboration technologies by identifying three challenges that LSCs face when they pursue an LSC effort: (1) knowledge exchange challenges, (2) knowledge deliberation challenges, and (3) knowledge combination challenges. We examine how technology was used in responding to these challenges, synthesizing their use into three socio-technical affordances to improve knowledge dissemination efficiency and innovation effectiveness: knowledge collaging, purposeful deliberating, and knowledge interlacing. We demonstrate the intellectual benefit of incorporating socio-technical affordances in studies of LSCs including what small group collaboration research can learn from LSCs.

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