A sketch of my PhD model

“What’s your model? ” asked the professor in a course handing me a whiteboard marker and gesturing to stand-up and go draw it – visible for everyone. Now four years later I find myself in the same situation, trying to get my thinking across to my supervisor and promoters. So here the building blocks of my model:

Box 1: Adaptive Expertise

The model begins with adaptive expertise. You can read in my previous post “What is adaptive expertise” more about it. In short, it is the ability to deal with change. So if change happens at work, not to run away, bury your head in the sand, but to embrace it by analyzing the situation and finding a solution to solve it. This solution takes the form of a new tool/service, policy, task method etc. Adaptive experts are good at this without reducing their performance level.

Box 2: Information Sharing

The second concept I look at is information sharing. Now this can be researched from many perspectives. I have chosen to narrow it down to ‘seeking information from experts within the team’. So I’m focusing on 1 specific interaction pattern in teams: How often team member A ask team member B for information on work related topics. This concept is based on transactive memory, the knowledge of who knows what in the team (Wegner, 1995). Each team member has their own transactive memory, a form of meta memory. These are coupled by a system of coordination, creating the transactive memory system. In this system, information seeking is influenced by a) do I know the expertise of team members (knowing) and b) do I value the expertise of team members aka are their credible experts (valuing). Thus, information seeking is influencing by knowing and valuing (Borgatti & Cross, 2003). Transactive memory system looks like that:

Components of a Transactive Memory System

Components of a Transactive Memory System

So what does it have to do with adaptive expertise?

Box 3: Social Identity

The last building block in my model is social identity. This variable takes into account emotional aspects of the individual, making my model complete. I covered cognitive processes through adaptive expertise, behavior with information sharing and now the affective side with social identity.

Social identity is feeling. You as individual feel part of a certain group. Therefore you take on the identity of the group. It’s not that you as an individual have no identity and are fully guided by group concerns, but that your behavior and attitudes in a given moment are consistent with the group you currently identify with (e.g. your nationality, discipline, gender, favorite sports club).

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