CS700:Graduate Seminar in Computer Science & Informatics

Bridging Humans and Computers: Knowledge Ecosystems and Managing Knowledge in Turbulent Environments

Knowledge represents the most strategically valuable resource of any organization. For organizations seeking to cultivate valuable knowledge, knowledge ecosystems embody a "bottom-up" (i.e., grassroots) knowledge management strategy that combines knowledge technologies, organizational stimuli, and knowledge exchange processes. Knowledge technologies include computer interfaces and networked systems that enable organizational knowledge exchanges among human actors. Organizational stimuli include formal incentives, normative values, and competence-based trust to motivate human actors to transfer knowledge intra- and inter-organizationally. Knowledge exchange processes embody intra- and inter-organizational knowledge creation, transfer, and protection activities.
This seminar will examine one aspect of knowledge ecosystems in-depth, specifically that of structure and "top-down" vs. "bottom-up" knowledge management strategies by extending March's (1991) organizational science model of exploration and exploitation to demonstrate how these elements, given environmental turbulence, influence aggregate individual knowledge levels within an organization. While other elements of my dissertation examine organizational stimuli and knowledge exchange processes, this seminar will focus specifically on organizational design and strategy elements. Moreover, while this seminar will be given to a predominantly computer science audience -- the audience is given fair warning that this seminar focuses on information systems, to include the human factors associated with system use.
As part of my research, I find that in the absence of personnel turnover, a knowledge management strategy of high exploitation and low exploration for a multi-tier hierarchical organization -- representative of an overall "top-down" strategy -- reduces the accuracy of organizational knowledge levels compared to alternative organizational design and knowledge management strategies. The magnitude of this reduction in accuracy increases as the number of tiers in a hierarchical organization increase. Managers operating in a flat organization will see less of a reduction compared to a multi-tier organization.
David A. Bray served as IT Chief for the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) starting in 2000. He led the technology aspects of the program during the response to 9/11, anthrax in 2001, West Nile Virus, SARS and monkeypox in 2003, influenza, and other major outbreaks. David later received the CDC Director's Award for Information Services in 2004, a Masters degree in Public Health Informatics, and was promoted to Associate Director of Informatics for HIV/AIDS Prevention. Prior to CDC, David worked as a senior developer and project manager for Microsoft, Yahoo!, the Institute for Defense Analyses, and the National Institutes of Health. He is a graduate from the Computer Science Dept. at Emory University.
In 2007, David received a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to serve as a Visiting Associate at the University of Oxford's Internet Institute, lecturing on "bottom-up", grassroots approaches for fostering inter-individual knowledge exchanges, particularly for national security or emergency response efforts. David is also a PhD candidate researching Information Systems at the Goizueta Business School, Emory University. This summer David will be pursuing a post-doc at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, prior to starting a new role with the Science and Technology Policy Institute (www.ida.org/stpi) in Washington, D.C.