Full citation

Hoopes, D.G., & Postrel, S. (1999). Shared Knowledge. Strategic Management Journal, 20(9), 837-865.

Format: Peer-reviewed article

Type: Research — Non-experimental

Experience level of reader: Advanced

Annotation: The researchers of this study describe organizational shared knowledge as a resource influencing a company's product development capability. Their goal is to understand the causes of the correlation found between organizational integration and company performance. They attempt to find the causes by identifying and measuring the impact of 'glitches' among many different projects within one software company. A 'glitch' is defined by the researchers as, "a costly mistake that could have been avoided if some of the parties involved had understood thing that were known by other participants".

Setting(s) to which the reported activities/findings are relevant: Federal lab, Government, Large business, Small business (less than 500 employees), University

Knowledge user(s) to whom the piece of literature may be relevant: Manufacturers, Researchers

Knowledge user level addressed by the literature: Organization

This article uses the Commercial Devices and Services version of the NtK Model

Primary Findings

Barrier: Meetings between scientists and programmers were held to assure that the alternatives would accomplish the scientists' goals, and the programmers wrote up functional specifications describing their plans. The programmers did not comprehend what the scientists told them, and the scientists did not comprehend what the programmers told them they intended to do. The new product version was found to be unacceptable when it was tested.
Case study example.
Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 1.1


  • Shared knowledge was clearly valuable on the margin, and the degree of shared knowledge seemed, based on qualitative analysis of the interview data, to be closely related to the intensity of integrating practices such as cross functional meetings, early development of specifications, and participation by boundary spanning individuals. It thus seems more than plausible that integrating practices improved performance by increasing the degree of shared knowledge about problem constraints, thereby reducing the incidence of glitches.
    Case Study. Data analysis of company's projects.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Step 4.1, Step 4.12
  • Firms that encourage the free circulation of information and knowledge among those responsible for a new product, and that prevent specialist tunnel-vision in problem solving, appear to come up with better products faster, and use fewer man-hours in doing so.
    Findings from literature review by authors.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 4.7, Step 4.6
  • When outside vendors are miles away, be cautious when trying to do the job without face-to-face meetings. This may cause team members to work without a clear sign-off on functional specifications, and hence unnecessarily duplicated work may be done.
    Cast study example.
    Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 4.7

Secondary Findings

Method: Coordination in this sense refers to the problem of ensuring that scarce development resources are allocated efficiently to the different tasks that must be accomplished, that task deadlines are set appropriately and communicated clearly, and that the sequence of planned activities leads to a total project duration that approaches the minimum possible. In the literature on project management, these problems are typically addressed in terms of PERT charts and 'critical path analysis' (Eppen, Gould, and Schmidt [1993])
Occurrence of finding within the model: Tip 1.3, Step 4.9, Step 4.10, Step 4.8, Step 4.7, Step 7.6, Step 7.5, Step 7.4