Integration of Global Knowledge Networks



This article surveys the literature and develops a framework for research into the integration of distributed knowledge work (DKW). Knowledge work is considered to be “distributed” whenever key decisions for execution of the project cut across organizational boundaries, as occurs under outsourcing, offshoring, or open-source arrangements. The growth of such arrangements in recent years is well documented. Nonetheless, research into maintaining the coherence of a DKW project from initiation to customer delivery, often referred to as supply chain integration, project or systems integration, or simply “integration,” is relatively new. We first review the relevant literature from operations, service, and information management, organizational theory, and engineering design, focusing on the key decisions identified by this literature in relation to the contracting, organization, work, and information infrastructure design of a knowledge work project. We then attempt to open the “black box” of integration by inductively organizing these key decisions. Finally, we contrast this approach with prior research frameworks and identify key topics for future study.