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Knowledge Creation in Collaborative Research Projects: Project Management as Enabler, Hindrance or just a simple tool?

Knowledge Creation in Collaborative Research Projects: Project Management as Enabler, Hindrance or just a simple tool?

Authors: Linda C. Hald, Agnar Johansen, Siva Ekambaram,

Presented at the 13th European Conference on Knowledge Management (ECKM) 2012, Cartagena, Spain.


Projects are said to be vehicles for learning. This paper looks at the instances and aspects of knowledge creation in collaborative research projects. Knowledge creation in a project is a process that involves, among other things, reflection, communication, social interaction and action. Members of a collaborative research project may have varied views of the world and of the project that they are a part of. When they come to work in a project, then they come not only with their knowledge and expertise, but also with their own perception as well as interpretation of the reality, attitudes and behavior. They may have different personal goals that can contradict with the project goal. Their work-norms may vary. And, they work in a work-form that is temporal; once the project is finished, then it will not exist any more. This kind of a work setting can cause various challenges when it comes to knowledge creation. The challenge in managing collaborative research project lies in identification and developing approaches that contributes to lower the physical distance and develop tools that contributes to enroll participants with different languages, norms and rule systems. Maintaining and nurturing a research team, composed of scientists, engineers, developers and designers from different cultural backgrounds, keeping the project objectives and ambitions at course, while countering the dynamics and challenges of research projects takes more than just management resources. The people factor and the complexity of making tacit project knowledge explicit and translating of expertise across multidisciplinary domains are important aspects that are to be taken into consideration when it comes to large complex projects. By focusing on both informal and formal processes, the challenges can be overcome. In this paper, we present how knowledge creation is performed and managed in three collaborative research projects (a European Union project, a global project and a national project) and discuss their formal and informal processes.