Knowledge diffusion within a large conservation organization and beyond

Fisher, Jonathan R.B.; Montambault, Jensen; Burford, Kyle P.; Gopalakrishna, Trisha; Masuda, Yuta J.; Reddy, Sheila M.W.; Torphy, Kaitlin; Salcedo, Andrea I.
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Total Pages24
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Tagsconservation science; internet; surveys; human learning; jobs; social networks; conservation biology; employment
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Publication DateMarch 01, 2018
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AbstractThe spread and uptake of new ideas (diffusion of innovations) is critical for organizations to adapt over time, but there is little evidence of how this happens within organizations and to their broader community. To address this, we analyzed how individuals accessed information about a recent science innovation at a large, international, biodiversity conservation non-profit–The Nature Conservancy–and then traced the flow of how this information was shared within the organization and externally, drawing on an exceptionally data-rich environment. We used surveys and tracking of individual internet activity to understand mechanisms for early-stage diffusion (knowledge seeking and sharing) following the integration of social science and evidence principles into the institutional planning framework: Conservation by Design (CbD 2.0). Communications sent to all employees effectively catalyzed 56.4% to exhibit knowledge seeking behavior, measured by individual downloads from and visits to a restricted-access site. Individuals who self-reported through a survey that they shared information about CbD 2.0 internally were more likely to have both received and sought out information about the framework. Such individuals tended to hold positions within a higher job grade, were more likely to train others on CbD as part of their job, and to enroll in other online professional development offerings. Communication strategies targeting external audiences did not appear to influence information seeking behavior. Staff who engaged in internal knowledge sharing and adopting “evidence” practices from CbD 2.0 were more likely to have shared the document externally. We found a negative correlation with external sharing behavior and in-person trainings. Our findings suggest repeated, direct email communications aimed at wide audiences can effectively promote diffusion of new ideas. We also found a wide range of employee characteristics and circumstances to be associated with knowledge diffusion behavior (at both an organizational and individual level).
Created: 5/24/2018 4:44 PM (ET)
Modified: 5/24/2018 4:44 PM (ET)
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