Examining the role of mobile phones in minimising knowledge transfer impediments in students' projec teams

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Knowledge transfer is the most important process in knowledge management. In order for knowledge to be used, it has to be transferred from one knowledge source to the other. Knowledge transfer is not a smooth process. There are a lot of impediments that prevent the transfer of knowledge. Four knowledge transfer impediments were identified: nature of knowledge, social ties, time and motivation. These four were selected because literature shows that they affect project teams in academic and non-academic organisations. However the development of mobile phones and mobile technologies is promising to address this issue. Students use mobile phones to communicate with each other thus sharing knowledge. This research investigated the role that mobile phones play in minimising knowledge transfer impediments in students' project teams. A quantitative approach was used to collect data from participants to test hypothesis drawn from literature. A total of 176 responses were obtained from three groups of students doing projects. The study provides several interesting findings. The study found that, mobile phones minimise three of the four knowledge transfer impediments identified. These are motivation, social ties and time impediments. It was discovered that, a mobile phone motivates team members to share knowledge during a project. Team members with strong social ties use their mobile phones more often to share knowledge on their project. It takes less time to acquire knowledge from previous team members when a mobile phone is used. A mobile phone does not help project teams to transfer tacit knowledge. The study did not find any evidence that suggest that gender and race play role in knowledge transfer using a mobile phone. It was found that project teams from different departments transfer different forms of explicit know ledge. The study also discovered that students do not only use their mobile phones to transfer knowledge, but also use their mobile phones to create knowledge. The study reveals that mobile phones promise to bring a new era of mobile learning. Higher education institutions should cease this opportunity and introduce new interactive ways of learning. Students on the other hand should use mobile phones more often for knowledge creation and transfer to improve their academic work.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 98-106).