Albert A. Angehrn
Professor of Information Technology
Changing the way people think and act when it comes to sharing their knowledge, integrating and using that of others, as well as creating it collaboratively, is not an easy task. It involves considering psychological factors, personal attitudes and competencies as well as the history and the dynamics of the social, emotional and organizational context in which people operate.Nevertheless, organizations worldwide have engaged, over the last decade, in extensive ‘Knowledge Management’ (KM) projects, i.e., initiatives aimed at better leveraging latent, explicit, as well as tacit, knowledge sources, creating synergies and collaborations, increasing transparency, fostering innovation across different boundaries (geographical, functional, structural, cultural, etc.) and ultimately increasing the quality and performance of their value creation processes. The context of an international project, sponsored by the research division of the European Community, provided the opportunity to capitalize on the insights gained from Knowledge Management experiences in organizations to explore how a number of approaches, concepts and systems could be applied in the social context of urban communities, in which the potential for creating value by achieving the objectives listed above is present too, particularly given the ‘intangible’ knowledge exchange barriers existing between people living in the same town, the same area, the same street, or even on the same level in a large building. The approach which emerged took up the challenge of removing these barriers using a ‘Learning-by-Playing’ philosophy, i.e., game-like processes and systems to involve a heterogeneous target population in gradually becoming more aware of the existing barriers, then gaining interest in removing them, and finally becoming willing and able to explore collaboratively (and playfully) new forms of knowledge exchange and interactions bridging both online, ‘virtual’ (interactive web- and 3D-based) and traditional, ‘natural’ spaces. The belief underlying this chapter is that sharing a number of insights gained through our project, including the features of some of the processes and systems developed in this context, might be of value to people who, from a theoretical or practical perspective, are interested in the dynamics of KM-enabled change and innovation in social contexts, such as urban communities, as well as in organizations.