T h e o r i e s U s e d i n I S R e s e a r c h
T r a n s a c t i v e M e m o r y T h e o r y
|Theory Name||Transactive Memory Theory|
|Main dependent construct(s)/factor(s)||N/A|
|Main independent construct(s)/factor(s)||N/A|
|Concise description of theory||Transactive memory theory is based on the idea
that individual members can serve as external memory aids to each other
(Wegner, 1987). Members are able to benefit from each other’s knowledge and
expertise if they develop a good, shared understanding of who knows what in
the group/unit. A transactive memory system is built on the distinction
between internal and external memory encoding. Often, individuals encode new
knowledge internally, in their own memory. However, even more often
individuals encode or use knowledge encoded externally (in diaries, in
books, or even in other people’s memory). In these cases, the individual
internally encodes the label (subject) of the knowledge as well as its
location but not the knowledge itself.
Transactive memory systems are built on this view of individuals playing the role of external memory for other individuals who – in turn – encode meta-memories (i.e. memories about the memories of others). Wegner (1995) proposes that two types of meta-memories are maintained in people’s minds – information about the subjects of knowledge of each member (i.e. areas of expertise) and information about the locations of the knowledge. Knowledge is encoded, stored, and retrieved from the collective memory through various transactions between individuals, based on their meta-memories.
Members of small groups, who are co-located, can initially use surface information to infer rough estimates of “who knows what” (Wegner, 1986), and can then reach greater accuracy in the attribution of expertise to other group members through common experiences (Moreland, Argote & Krishnan, 1998), such as group training (Liang, Moreland & Argote, 1995), and group discussion (Rulke & Rao, 2000).
|Diagram/schematic of theory||N/A|
|Originating author(s)||Wegner (1986)|
|Seminal articles||Wegner, D. M. (1986). Transactive memory: A contemporary analysis of the group mind. In M. B. & G. G. R. (Eds.), Theories of Group Behavior (pp. 185-205). New York: Springer-Verlag.|
|Level of analysis||Group|
|Links to WWW sites describing theory||http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~wegner/pubs.htm, Website of Daniel Wegner, originator of the theory|
|Links from this theory to other theories||Absorptive capacity, Information processing theory|
|IS articles that use the theory||Griffith, Sawyer, and Neale.
2003. “Virtualness and Knowledge in Teams: Managing the Love Triangle of
Organizations, Individuals, and Information Technology MIS Quarterly, 27, 2,
2003, pp. 265-287
Nevo, D., Y. Wand. 2005. Organizational memory information systems: a transactive memory approach. Decision Support Systems. 39(4):549-562
Sharma, R., & Yetton, P. 2007. The Contingent Effects of Training, Technical Complexity and Task Interdependence on Successful Information Systems Implementation. MIS Quarterly, 31(2).
Yoo, Y., & Kanawattanachai, P. 2002. Developments of Transactive Memory and Collective Mind in Virtual Teams. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 9(2).
|Date last updated||September 11, 2005|
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