USI - Knowledge Communication USI - Università della Svizzera italiana USI - Knowledge Communication University of St. Gallen


Relevance of Knowledge Communication for Management

The role of specialized knowledge or expertise in managerial decision processes is ever more important, as these decisions tackle ever more complex issues. That is the reason why knowledge processes between experts and decision makers are a key prerequisite for high quality executive decisions. These transfer processes, however, are far more complex then the simple transfer of information. The transfer of knowledge by means of communication requires the conveying of insights, experiences, skills or experiences which cannot be communicated as easily as facts or figures. It is, however, exactly this type of know-how and know-why which is crucial for the decision making processes in management.

New technologies, new markets and legal aspects make decision processes in organizations increasingly complex. To reduce this (time and complexity) problem which in part can be labelled as "information overload", decision makers delegate the preparatory part of their decisional tasks to domain specialists (analysts, engineers, lawyers etc.) who prepare decisions for managers through the thorough analysis of relevant issues. The results of their analysis form the basis for their recommendations to management.

Consequently, domain experts must be able to communicate their knowledge to managers, taking into account the often considerable time constraints and the limited attention of decision makers. Managers, in return, must understand how the recommendations of their experts have come about and how they should be interpreted and put into action. Due to the asymmetry of their knowledge and due to the limited amount of available time, the communication of knowledge between the expert and the manager is a crucial task in terms of its possible consequences.

Research Questions

Our team pursues the general research question of how experts communicate competence-based, decision-relevant knowledge (e.g., know-how, know-why) beyond the mere transport of information, which problems arise in doing so and how this type of communication can be improved between decision makers and specialists with regard to complex, knowledge-intensive issues. We particularly investigate the role of the new media in this context.

Research Methodology

In a first step, the project aims to crystallize the problem areas and key variables of knowledge communication between decision makers and experts. Having elaborated a conceptual framework, we then develop - together with our partners - criteria and best practices for this type of communication. On this basis, we evaluate and develop various interactive tools which aim to improve the quality of the knowledge communication between experts and decision makers both for synchronous and asynchronous communication.