Alumna Y. Connie Yuan (Ph.D Communication '04) and communication professors Janet Fulk (pictured above) and Peter Monge (pictured below right) were awarded the 2008 Distinguished Article Award in Communication and Social Cognition at the 2008 National Communication Association conference, held Nov. 21-24 in San Diego, Calif.
The article, published in Communication Research and titled Access to Information in Connective and Communal Transactive Memory Systems, tested a transactive theory model of how individuals allocate and retrieve task-related information in work teams. It extended prior research by exploring the role of communal information repositories in the context of human information resources.
"This article contributes to a line of research on Transactive Memory Theory, which explains how people collectively know what is known about a given topic, since typically, no one person can know everything," Monge said. "It shows how people use connective and communal information repositories to acquire information they need to do their work. The theory has not previously accounted for communal repositories but the present research shows that they are important and should be included in future versions of the theory and research. The designation as a Distinguished Article should significantly increase the visibility of the research and increase its impact on those scholars who work in this area."
Structural equation modeling of six integrated hypotheses revealed several significant results:
- Usage of information repositories was significantly related to individual access to information. However, the relationship between individual direct information exchange with team members (the human repositories) and individual access to information was significant only among average-level users of organizational information repositories
- Development of individual expertise directories significantly influenced individual direct information exchange with team members
- Perceived usage of organizational information repositories by team members significantly influenced actual usage
- Technology-specific competence in using intranets significantly influenced the actual usage of intranets as organizational information repositories.
"In contemporary organizations people meet information-processing needs through two primary ways," the article concluded. "The first is by engaging in direct information exchange among TM system members, thereby acquiring information that is 'stored' in those other persons. This method requires the information seeker to have a well-developed expertise directory to know whom to approach in seeking information. The second is by participating in 'generalized exchange' via communal information repositories.With generalized exchange, people can access stored information without having to know who holds such information."
Monge said they normally view transactive memories from a social networks perspective (Who shares what knowledge with whom?), but it is also entails a social cognition process (Who do I know in the group who knows what I need to know?).
"Consequently, we were delighted that the award that was given to this research was from scholars who specialize in social cognition," he said.
"Annenberg is known world-wide for its faculty who publish leading-edge research in top-tier journals and write award-winning books," he said. "This work joins a long list of distinguished scholarship by Annenberg faculty."