Purpose: Transactive memory, defined as the shared awareness of who knows what (Moreland, Argote, & Krishnan, 1996), is one aspect of socially shared cognition, and is consistently recognised as central to effective team performance particularly in the completion of complex tasks requiring contribution from different areas of expertise (Yoo & Kanawattanachai, 2001 ). However, it remains unclear why knowledge about who knows what has this effect and this has led to recent calls to understand the mediating mechanisms that explain transactive memory's effect in teams (Van Ginkel & Van Knippenberg, 2009). This paper explores the assumption that the impact of transactive memory on knowledge creating capability is consequent to the use of debate and processes enhancing decision comprehensiveness. Approach: This study addresses these issues by investigating whether the impact of transactive memory on knowledge creation is consequent to the utilisation of deliberative, collaborative behaviours. To investigate this theory, we assess whether decision comprehensiveness and debate operate as mediating variables between transactive memory and knowledge creation. We utilise a survey-based, quantitative approach and collect data from 98 teams, which is analysed using structural equation modelling. Findings: The results of a survey-based investigation into 98 workplace teams verify our hypotheses, supporting the mediating effect of debate and decision comprehensiveness in the relationship between transactive memory and knowledge creation.Research implications and limitations: Through this study we respond to calls to understand the mechanisms through which transactive memory influences team performance in complex tasks (Van Ginkel & Van Knippenberg, 2009). In addressing this call we also respond to requests to develop knowledge of the psycho-social dimension of cognitive activities (Barnier, Sutton, Harris, & Wilson, 2008), and to the recognition that most extant research into transactive memory relies on data from laboratory rather than workplace groups (Austin, 2003). Practically, understanding debate and decision comprehensiveness as explanatory mechanisms provides advice to managers regarding the types of interventions, such as structured conflict processes, that will strengthen the link between transactive memory and performance. This study has a number of limitations, including a reliance on single source data and small sample size.
International Conference on Business and Information Technology Contemporary Research and Development (ICBIRD 2010). Proceedings of the International Conference on Business and Information Technology Contemporary Research and Development: Trends and Techniques in ICT (Ghaziabad, India 25-26 February, 2010) p. 204-216