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Collaborating and knowledge-sharing in heterogenous expert teams: Research within the Extended Product Lifecycle Management (E-PLM) project 2.0

Description project

In the E-PLM 2.0 initiative, Dutch organizations of different sizes, industries, and maturities collaborate to improve the life cycle management of their products and services. Multiple teams have been formed, comprising members from different organizations and backgrounds, to work on self-chosen question, problems, or solutions. Collaborating and sharing knowledge across and around members’ differences bears potential benefits as strengthened creative and innovative capacities, cross-fertilization of ideas, and opportunities for learning and development. At the same time, though, member differences can impede the creation of shared understandings and goals and can complicate communication and coordination as team members do not speak the same professional language: interests and attention points diverge, the same processes or things are given different names, ideas, opinions, and working styles are characterized by differing organizational backgrounds and experiences, etc. Taking a qualitative, we study how interorganizational teams successfully collaborate, share and create knowledge, and make sense of their teamwork—but also what keeps them from doing so. For example, one of our research questions aims to determine the role objects play in facilitating or hindering collaboration.

Expected outcomes

We aim to gain better insight into collaboration and knowledge-sharing processes that are characterized by differences, thereby supporting the full exploitation of interorganizational teams’ potentials. In contrast to much previous work, we study teams’ processes at the everyday level, that is, we zoom into teams’ real interactions. We mobilize ethnographic approaches to data collection and build on process and organization-as-communication theories. In addition to providing in-depth understanding of teams’ processes, our insights serve as baseline for the development of a practical tool that teams can use in the accomplishment of their joint work.

involved researchers

Ellen Nathues, Msc. - contact person
Dr. Maaike Endedijk - project leader
Dr. Mireille Hubers - contact person
Prof. dr. Ton de Jong

Duration of the project

January 2018 – January 2022

Funding & partners

A total of 23 partners collaborate in this project:

publications and presentations related to this project

  • Nathues, E., van Vuuren, M., Hubers, M. D., & Endedijk, M. D. (July 2019). Bridges or blocks: How objects cross or enact boundaries in interorganizational teams. Paper presented at the 35th EGOS (European Group of Organization Studies) colloquium, Edinburgh, UK. 
  • Nathues, E., van Vuuren, M., Hubers, M. D., & Endedijk, M. D. (July 2019). Bridges or blocks: How objects cross or enact boundaries in interorganizational teams. Paper presented at the 7th Summer School on Practice-based Studies, Warwick University, UK.
  • Nathues, E., Endedijk M. D., & de Jong, T. (May 2020). Member differences and how they materialize in team meetings. Paper presented at the 70th ICA (International Communication Association) conference, Organizational Communication Division Research Escalator session. Moved to virtual format due to COVID-19.
  • Nathues, E., Endedijk, M. D., & van Vuuren, M. (July 2020). Coauthoring an interorganizational collaboration: Exploring multi-voicedness and introducing spatiotemporal orientations. Paper presented at the 36th EGOS (European Group of Organization Studies) colloquium. Moved to virtual format due to COVID-19.
  • Nathues, E., & Endedijk, M. D. (2020). Exploring perceived differences in interorganizational teams: Helping or hindering collaboration? Paper accepted for presentation at the EARLI (European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction) conference, Learning and Professional Development Special Interest Group. Cancelled due to COVID-19.