Unpacking the Impact of Network Organization on Knowledge Creation: A Case Study in the Sino-foreign University


The emerging knowledge economy and disruptive information technologies significantly impacted and challenged the university. Due to the drawbacks of cumbersome procedures and rigid reporting lines (Kotter, 2014), the traditional hierarchical structure adopted by the universities severely hinders flexible cross-departmental collaboration and interdisciplinary innovation within universities. As a potential solution, network organization is proposed due to its merit of being agile and synergistic (Sobolewska and Kisielnicki, 2021). Powell (1990) found that network organizational structure can promote resource allocation; a similar conclusion of value creation improvement is proposed by Serrat (2017). However, these works merely applied network organization on the company side. There is still a lack of attention on the network organization in the context of the non-profit organization, especially the Sino-foreign universities. To address this issue, this research investigated the impact of network organization on promoting knowledge creation in Sino-foreign University. 26 in-depth interviews were conducted with academic and administrative staff to reveal how network organization can promote knowledge creation in the Sino-foreign University. Guided by the grounded theory, two crucial factors, broadening access to information and expanding the rate of information flow, were found. Based on these two focused codes, empowerment of knowledge creation is identified as the theoretical code to shape the role of network organization in the university, which provides a potential guide to organizational development on the knowledge creation for Sino-foreign university.

Author Information
Jiaxin Li, Xi'an Jiaotong-liverpool University, China
Xiaojun Zhang, Xi'an Jiaotong-liverpool University, China

Paper Information
Conference: ACEID2023
Stream: Educational policy

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon