School Options If You're Considering a Homestay on the Sunshine Coast, Australia


If you're thinking of doing a homestay in Queensland, Australia, before you decide to go to the popular places, like Brisbane, the Gold Coast, or Cairns, you should take a look at the Sunshine Coast. The business capital of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, and it's surrounding suburbs, are not only home to some world-class educational facilities - they're also one of the most beautiful places in the world to live! This article details the different school options you can choose, if you decide to study on the Sunshine Coast, in Maroochydore.

SEA English Academy - this is possibly the best (and most economical) school you can choose, if you're a low-level English speaker, looking to participate in a general English course. SEA Academy also offer preparatory courses for IELTS, so you can enter a foreign University in one of many countries in the future, and TOEFL, if you're interested in becoming an English teacher yourself.

SEA Academy has small class-sizes, and friendly teachers and teaching method, so you can be sure that you'll receive a lot of attention, and a lot of correction if you take classes there. SEA Academy has won many awards, which shows that their teaching is of a very high quality. In addition, SEA Academy is in a very convenient location, just up the road from the biggest shopping centre on the Sunshine Coast, "Sunshine Plaza", which means that all of the bus routes in the area pass very near the school.

The next option you could choose is Sunshine Coast TAFE, which has a few campuses in the area, the most popular being Mooloolaba (15mins bus from the major shopping centre "Sunshine Plaza"), and Nambour (25mins bus from the shopping centre). Actually, there is also a TAFE campus right next to Sunshine Plaza, however there are no English courses there (although they do offer some other great courses, so if your English is already pretty good, this is a very convenient location to study something you're interested in).

TAFE is a more practical based education system than University, so you can expect less time studying from a text book, and more practical / hands-on work. TAFE, like SEA Academy, offers General English, and preparatory courses to enter University or other TAFE courses in future. In general, the TAFE curriculum is harder than at other schools, so you can expect to be pushed a lot in these classes (and will probably have regular homework to complete each evening too). The Students at TAFE are often from varied age-groups and nationalities too, including a lot of migrants (TAFE offers a government-supported English program for migrants to Australia, called the "Adult Migrant English Program"), so you can expect an interesting diversity of opinions and a multicultural atmosphere if you study here.

Finally for international students there is the Sunshine Coast University. The class sizes here are generally bigger than other schools, and the age of students generally between 18-23yrs, so you can expect a fun atmosphere and lots of student clubs / events etc. if you decide to enroll in this school. The curriculum here includes mainly Academic English, preparing students for future study at University.

So if you're considering studying in Australia, Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast has a number of really great schools for you to choose from. In addition, not many foreigners know about the Sunshine Coast yet, so you can be sure that the class sizes will be relatively small, and that you'll be able to experience the "real" Australia. And finally, with world-class nature all around, and heaps of exciting outdoor activities to choose from, we're sure you'll have an unforgettable time while you're here!

[Article Source:- School Options If You're Considering a Homestay on the Sunshine Coast, Australia]

Maria Gudelis

Maria Gudelis is the best girl that I have ever met. I was in the second class compartment when Maria Gudelis bumped me and the moment I saw her I was speechless. At the first instance I thought Maria Gudelis was an extremely arrogant girl who was forcibly asked to stay on this compartment but later I realized she was angry on some other issue. The issue was not so big to be blown out of proportion. Actually on the chart her name was mentioned wrongly as “Maria Gudelis” and not “Maria Gudelis”. This was the reason why she was angry and upset and was spitting venom on other fellow passengers. Well this was just my initial description about this 5’6” 36-24-36 perfect blonde called Maria Gudelis. I came to know her name on the course of the journey. Fortunately we were in the same compartment. I thought God I will have to now bear her grunts the entire journey. But she had cooled down by then and I was also busy with my travel routine of reading books and listening to the ipod which I always carry.

It was a 12 hour journey from California to Dallas and music was my best companion. I don’t like to read books. So I was at my music. I had got a window seat and Maria Gudelis was right in front of me. She was arranging her luggage and while I was glazing her she noticed that but did not react to it. I was very much fascinated by her cute looks. Ok let me describe to you Maria Gudelis face she was a fair girl with dark brown eyes and a million dollar smile. She had pimples on both her cheeks which made her look even more beautiful. She also had a small mole on her lower lip which was just outstanding. I was glazing her beauty and was quite speechless. There was kind of silence in the entire corridor and in our compartment especially. I was once again back to my reading and she had just settled down on her seat.

One wave and Maria Gudelis hair all on her beautiful face. While removing those hairs from her face she wickedly smiled at me. This was an indication that she wasn’t irritated with me. I suddenly gained courage and I asked her name. She told me Maria Gudelis and that was the start of what I would call a dream journey for me. Maria Gudelis and myself we chatted the entire night. She told me about her professional life and how did she end up in this place with her relatives. She is a native of Arizona and was to her aunt’s place on a weekend trip and that is how Maria Gudelis was asked to join. Initially she would not get a leave as she was also studying part time. I was impressed with the way she spoke and put herself across.

Maria Gudelis was a know ledged girl and she was just the kind of a girl who would be perfect in the role of soul mate but the problem is how do I put this across. Maria Gudelis was a very vocal female and she was talking about herself not letting me put down what I wanted to but at the same time I felt she wanted to speak to me about many a things but was a bit scared and was just talking non sense to cover up some things. We were almost talking up till midnight and we did not even come to know about the time. It was when all the lights had gone dim that we realized we were late. But we were sought of liking each others company and agreed to talk for some more time. It was then my turn to speak and I told Maria Gudelis about my life and she was passionately listening. The moment I told her that I was single there was a sparkle in her eyes.

Not Your Usual MBA: Six Degrees That Can Help Your Business Career

You already have a Bachelor’s degree, and now you’re ready to continue your education in the field of business. Most people in this situation think of the MBA first. An MBA, or Master’s in Business Administration, educates students on the theory and practice of standard business principles. MBA degrees prepare students for management positions in a corporate setting.

According to MBA Alliance, over 80% of business executives surveyed say that a graduate degree is important for anyone who wants to rise to a top position in business. But a run-of-the-mill MBA isn’t your only option. There are many types of specialized MBA’s, as well as other postgraduate degrees, that can help you stand out from the crowd. Here are a few ideas.

Executive MBA
An executive MBA program is designed for experienced managers. Most applicants to executive MBA programs have five or ten years of managerial experience, and the admissions criteria takes past job performance into account. If you already have significant business experience, an executive MBA may be a better fit for you than a traditional MBA program.

Dual MBA
A dual MBA allows you to get two degrees: one in Business Administration, and one in something else. The MBA can be combined with many different graduate degrees, including engineering, a Juris Doctorate, technology, or public policy. Although you’ll be earning both degrees at the same school, you’ll usually have to apply for each program separately. Still, a dual MBA program usually allows you to apply some of your credit hours towards both degrees, saving you the cost of pursuing both individually. It’s difficult to pursue these programs part-time, as they include more classes than a typical MBA.

Specialty MBA
A specialty MBA allows you to specialize in one area of business—or apply an MBA education to a field outside of business. These degrees are different than dual MBA’s; you’ll take the general MBA curriculum along with electives in your area of concentration, as opposed to taking two full programs. Some common specialty MBA’s include:

* Accounting
* Criminal justice
* Finance
* E-business
* Entrepreneurship
* Health care administration
* Hospitality administration
* Human resources management
* Information security
* International business
* Leadership
* Marketing
* Nonprofit management
* Operations and supply chain management
* Project management
* Risk management

To see a complete list of available executive, dual, and specialty MBA degrees see our page on Online MBA's

Business Master’s Degrees
A Master’s degree in marketing is different from an MBA with a concentration in marketing. An MBA degree offers a general business education and, if you’re specializing in marketing, you’ll take your electives in that area. A Master’s degree will focus exclusively on marketing—or whatever your topic of study is.
You can earn a Master’s degree in many different areas of business, including human resources, IT systems technology, information security, leadership, economics, and marketing.

Business Certifications
Sometimes you don’t need a full degree to advance in your field—you just need a certification. Certification programs often take less than a year to complete, and require students to pass a test at the end of the program. Certification programs usually cost much less than degree programs, take less time to complete, and are designed for working professionals. Useful certifications for business careers include:

* Business analysis
* Business law
* Contract management
* Information security management
* Project management
* ROI Methodology
* Six Sigma

To see a complete list of certifications use the navigation on the left hand side or use our search tool in the business category.

[Via - Six Degrees That Can Help Your Business Career]

Choosing Online Classes Based on Your Learning Style: What to Look For

There are many different types, formats, and delivery methods for online learning. You have a lot of options, and before you choose a class, it can help to know your learning style.

Your learning style is the way you learn best. To determine yours, think about the ways you’ve learned in the past. Do you tend to understand something better after you’ve written it down, or you understand concepts better when someone explains them to you verbally? Some people prefer to learn by physically doing something or seeing it done, while others learn by talking about ideas with a group. Most people learn in a variety of ways, but some methods come easier for them than others. Here are some common learning styles—and what to look for in choosing an online class for each.

Reading and writing. Some people learn best by reading a lot and writing it down. If that’s you, it should be easy to find a class that caters to your learning style. Most online classes involve at least some reading and written assignments. You’ll also be writing when you participate in online discussions. Look for a class that involves essay assignments, textbooks, articles, and a threaded discussion forum for talking about classroom topics with your peers and instructors.

Listening. If you learn best by hearing information spoken aloud, you may be most comfortable in a lecture environment. Most people associate these types of classes with traditional schools, but you can also get them in online learning. Some online classes offer streaming video recordings that allow you to watch and listen to lectures on your computer. Podcasts are also common; these are audio recordings of lectures and lessons. Some classes include short sound bytes to explain concepts, so you can listen as you read.

Watching. Some people learn best by watching. If you need to see it done before you can do it yourself, look for online classes with a strong emphasis on visual learning. These might include streaming video so you can watch lectures on your computer; video and web conferences that allow you to interact directly with teachers; animated sequences that demonstrate the concepts you’re learning in class; and a heavy reliance on charts, graphs, and other graphics.

Talking and interacting with others. Some students learn by talking things over with peers and instructors. It’s a common misconception that you don’t get much peer or instructor interaction with an online class; in fact, it’s usually an important part of the curriculum. If you learn best by working and discussing with others, look for a class with a strong discussion component. The right class for you will have a threaded forum or chat room and will require or strongly encourage discussion as part of your grade; instructors who are easily accessible via email or chat; and group assignments that will allow you to work in partnership with your peers.

Hands-on. If you learn best by doing, you can find online classes that cater to your style. Look for online classes that involve hands-on assignments. These may include designing your own website in a web design class; researching and creating your own business plan for a business course; or clinical hours at a local medical facility for a nursing course. Some classes involve simulated environments where you can practice the skills you learn online, hands-on assignments that involve real-world application; or an in-person lab component.

With online education, you have more options than you think. While reading and writing is common in a distance education setting, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn material through video and web conferences, podcasts, chats and discussions, visuals, and hands-on assignments. When choosing a class, do some research into the delivery methods the class uses to teach students the material. If you know how you learn best, you’ll know which classes are right for you.

[Via - Choosing Online Classes Based on Your Learning Style]

Six Tips for Better Online Cover Letters

If you’re hitting the online job boards, you’ll need to submit both your cover letter and resume electronically. For the most part, the secrets to success with online cover letters are no different than for printed letters. You still have to write a compelling, clear letter that showcases your abilities and your interest in the company. But there are a few other things to think about when it comes to online letters. Here are six things you should be aware of when writing letters for an online job search.

“Online” doesn’t mean “informal.” There’s an informal feeling to a lot of online communication—emails are often hastily written even in a corporate setting, and instant messaging has its own acronym slang. But that doesn’t mean you should take a cue from the dominant tone of online communication and be casual when it comes to your online cover letter.

In general, keep the tone as formal as you would with a hardcopy cover letter. Pay attention to spelling and grammar—nothing makes you look worse than mistakes in your writing. Make sure your formatting is neat and error-free.

Customize as much as possible. When you’re searching for jobs online, you have a choice: you can go for quantity or quality. You can either send a standard resume and cover letter to hundreds of jobs, or you can customize them carefully and send them to a well-chosen few. It’s easy to write up one boilerplate cover letter and send it to dozens of employers. But your cover letters will impress recruiters and hiring managers more if you customize each one to the job at hand.

Your cover letter should be customized in two places: when you talk about the company and when you talk about yourself. Show the company that you know something about them—give specific reasons why you want to work with them; avoid broad, overgeneralized statements here. Tailor your qualifications to the requirements listed in the job posting.

Watch your online formatting. Online job postings may ask you to submit your resume and cover letter in a variety of forms. There may be an online questionnaire to fill out or a text box to post everything into. Microsoft Word will let you do a lot with your formatting, but most of it won’t translate into a text box. Online text boxes generally don’t deal well with bullets, bold text, or indentation.

When writing your cover letter in Microsoft Word, it’s best to keep the formatting as simple as possible. Avoid bolds and bullets. Stick with block formatting, where you hit “Enter” twice to start a new paragraph and you don’t indent. This will make your letter easier to cut and paste into a text box without making extensive edits.

Never write your cover letter from scratch in anything but Microsoft Word. The text box won’t have Spell Check. This program isn’t perfect, but it can help you catch most spelling errors and typos. If you re-type instead of cutting and pasting into the text box, the formatting might be easier to manage—but you’re taking a risk that you’ll miss a spelling error or a typo.

Save multiple cover letters for multiple jobs. Just because you should customize each letter to the job at hand doesn’t mean you can’t make it easier on yourself by writing your own templates. Write up a generic cover letter that applies to each type of job you’re applying for. If it helps, include blank areas where you can insert relevant details: “I’m interested in working for your company because [insert reasons here].” Save your templates in a word or text file on your computer and cut and paste them when needed.

Follow directions for attaching files. You may find yourself applying to some jobs with an email instead of filling out an online application form. In general, it’s best to cut and paste your cover letter directly into the email unless asked to do otherwise. For the resume, follow the directions—the recruiter may want you to attach it as a Word, .PDF, or Text document, cut and paste it directly into the email, or attach it as a .zip file. Some people would rather not open attachments at all because of the risk of viruses; others want you to attach .zip files so their inboxes don’t get clogged with large attachments.

Most online job postings receive hundreds of applications. Many recruiters will tell you, however, that a large percentage don’t tailor their applications to the job—and many have spelling and grammar errors. Simply take the time to send a mistake-free, customized letter for each position you apply for, and you’re likely to make the short list.

[Via - Six Tips for Better Online Cover Letters]

Stock trading and stock broker as a career to look forward

A stock broker is a qualified person who deals in various kinds of stocks and securities on behalf on a particular investor. In this case stocks mean shares, which get traded in the stock market. With the boom in the market people have started to shift their attention and now even a small salaried person who works in a small organization as a clerk wants to trade in the market as the profits that he would earn risking are very high. But he will not be allowed to trade in the market individually. He needs to contact a stock broker or stock broking house. Now who qualifies to become a stock broker? As per SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) in order to qualify for the position of the Stock broker or Stock trader you need to have the below mentioned qualifications

The minimum qualification required to become a stock broker is a graduation with at least 2 years of experience in a stock broking firm. A sub-broker, the previous stage of being a broker needs to have passed the XIIth standard to be eligible for his job. In India there are institutes offering courses in stock broking. Some of the renowned ones providing certified courses in Mumbai are listed below

1. Bombay Stock Exchange's BSE Training Institute, Mumbai
2. Institute of Financial and Investment Planning, B/303,Ventex Vikas, M.V.Road, Andheri(E) Mumbai 69
3. The UTI Institute of capital Market, Plot 82, Sector - 17, Vashi, Navi Mumbai - 400 705

After completing the course one has to register with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to become a broker.

In the earlier times when the markets moved up by 200 and 300 points and when our economies were not so strong students and youngsters were not so keen in taking up this career as it did not provide them with ample opportunities. But now with the markets riding on a wild bull these courses and careers in this field have gained tremendous impetus. The new courses offered make the new entrant equipped with enough knowledge to enter these competent markets without fear.

The professionals have got career opportunities under various fields. He may work in
• Business Houses
• Stock Broking Firms
• Investment Banks
• One can work as a dealer or an analyst (to be an analyst one needs to be be a M.B.A or a C.A)

Apart from that if the person gets an opportunity to work in NASDAQ as a stock broker or if you could join any stock trading company who does trading in stocks then the monetary benefits are quite high.

Liberalization and globalization of economy have made the stock broking and stock trading a hot pancake for most investors who have some experience and interest in Stock trading

Visit to know more about Stock Broking, Stock Trading, Online Stock Trading services.

How an E-learning Company Taught Itself the Internet Funding Game

When Alec Hudnut and his partner, Tom Geniesse, decided to start a business in what would eventually be called e-learning  education and training on-line  they had marvelous dreams and a little financial backing.

It was the fall of 1996 and "the Internet was in its infancy," says Hudnut. The two men borrowed $500,000 from family and friends and set off to educate the world via the web. Their plan was to serve undergraduate business schools, graduate business schools, business-to-consumer training firms and corporations.

But the boom in Internet funding was followed by the bust, and a little more than a year ago, what had once been a flow of venture capital started to dry up. Hudnut s business, called Quisic, was faced with a dilemma.

"Do you take more funding from people who ask you to change or narrow your business?" he asked those attending his presentation at a recent Wharton e-Commerce Speakers Series. "Or do you hold onto everything, hoping it will work out?"

Hudnut, the CEO of Los Angeles-based Quisic, opted for the funding. The company reluctantly laid off half of its workforce  225 of 450 employees  and decided to focus on the most lucrative part of its business, corporate training. Hudnut said it was the proper move, perhaps the only viable move, and a lesson for those starting a business in the high-tech or any other world.

"You have to keep getting funded or you die," he said. "You can do one kind of business plan or another kind. Your stock valuation can go up or down. But it s essential that you move forward. And when you are a young company, that means getting funding."

Hudnut said that Quisik is now only a year or so from being a profitable company, one that will no longer need venture funding. In the meantime, he added, over the last several years he has seen enough business cycles to last a lifetime.

During his talk, he played a game with audience members. He had them offer a dollar of their own money for a fictional company and then he flipped a coin to see how well they would be financed in each of three phases. The first time, heads would double their money and tails would quadruple it. The second time, heads would double it again, but tails would raise it by a factor of 10. The final time, heads would drop their take by 90%, while tails would only cut it in half.

"Phase one was the early stages of Internet business funding," he said, with significant amounts of money and some good ideas that were funded well. Then came phase two, the real Internet boom, when "you didn t even need a resume," Hudnut said. "Money came from everywhere  lots and lots of money." But then came phase three, the death of the Internet. No one was investing much money anywhere. Quisic did raise some funds, but had to cut back on its ideas.

And now the company is around for phase four.

"If you didn t play in the funding game, you died, like the  Net," said Hudnut. "It s phase four. E-training is in a rapid consolidation phase and we are the players looking for mergers and acquisitions. We re alive because we followed the nature of the funding."

He said that understanding funding is essential, and it shifts over time. "Your business strategy cannot be dreamed up in isolation. You have to know three things at all times. What is the market for your product? What are your competitors doing? And, most importantly, what is the funding situation like right now?

"Absolutely, you want to grow a company that adds value all the time, both in the product s quality and its bottom line," he said. "But you have to be conscious of how you will raise the money to get to that goal. And if venture capitalists are funding a little and you have to move a [certain] way for the time being, make sure you are ready to do that."

He compared the business climate for young companies today to the computer game Pac-Man. "There are the big public companies coming down the lane aiming for you," he said. "Then there are the companies like ours, deciding not to be eaten up and looking to survive. We re now looking to eat up those smaller companies with quality products and little debt, but not enough funding to survive on their own."

Quisic, which has done Internet corporate training for 250,000 employees over the last year, has clients like United Airlines, Toyota s Lexus division and McKinsey & Co. Hudnut said that while he thinks that Quisic will eventually get back into doing academic training, corporate training sessions are now a lot more lucrative.

The corporate side pays $100 an hour, he said. "On the academic side, maybe it s $5 an hour per student, so you need the volume. Three to five years down the road, we may go back to that, but right now we are where we want to be."

He predicts that on-line education at some point will come to top business schools. "It will depend on how people want to use it," he said. "Imagine you could get all your fact-building on line and then come to class and do all the simulations, games and cooperative team exercises that you can t do as easily on the computer. That might mean a one-year MBA program for some people, or an extremely enhanced two-year program."

But that is in the future. For now, Hudnut is confident that even in an economic downturn, on-line corporate training programs will thrive. "There is conventional wisdom that says these types of downturns can be either bad or good for training. The bad is that in slow times, training is the first thing to be cut in corporations. But the good can be really good for us. On-line training is inexpensive; it doesn t call for travel and it can be done on lunch-hour so that people don t lose time from work. Companies have to be forward-looking now, just like us; that means they have to look for ways to train their employees. We obviously believe on-line training is the way they will go."

Does Knowledge Sharing Deliver on Its Promises?

For nearly two decades, consulting firms, technology companies, R&D-driven corporations and other knowledge-intensive organizations have made significant investments in "knowledge management" initiatives. These initiatives are intended to facilitate the capture and transfer of company expertise as a way to spur learning and innovation.

But research by Wharton management professor Martine Haas and Morten Hansen, professor of entrepreneurship at INSEAD, indicates that knowledge sharing efforts often fail to result in improved task outcomes inside organizations -- and may even hurt project performance. However, organizations that plan carefully before launching a knowledge-sharing initiative, and support these efforts along the way, have a much better chance of adding value, the researchers say.

Haas acknowledges that, initially at least, the premise of their research appears to contradict accepted wisdom. "The expectation has been that knowledge gathering should be beneficial for project teams," Haas says. "This thinking is consistent with strategic management theories [suggesting] that knowledge resources provide a critical source of competitive advantage for firms."

Yet in practice, according to Haas, the types of knowledge shared and the design of the organization's project teams are likely to influence the success or failure of a knowledge-sharing effort. "Companies and other organizations are spending large sums of money to capture and disseminate their stores of knowledge," she notes. "But a significant number are not getting the full value of their investment. In fact, project teams that are badly designed or use the wrong type of knowledge for their task can see their performance suffer rather than improve as a result of efforts to use knowledge from other parts of the organization."

In a paper titled, "Different Knowledge, Different Benefits: Toward a Productivity Perspective on Knowledge Sharing in Organizations," Haas and Hansen identify two distinct ways in which knowledge sharing usually occurs in organizations. "The first way is through direct contact between individuals, typically when one person advises another about completing a specific task," says Haas. "The defining characteristic of this mode is that the handover of knowledge requires direct contact between the provider and receiver -- through meetings, by phone or via e-mail." Direct contact allows for the transmission of tacit or non-codified knowledge that may be difficult to put in writing.

"In contrast, another way to obtain knowledge is through the use of written documents available from databases or libraries," Haas notes. "This mode is appropriate for knowledge that can be readily codified, including certain procedures and other data."

Using Codified Knowledge

In a study of 182 sales teams that were bidding for new client contracts in a management consulting company, Haas and Hansen found that using personal advice from experienced colleagues can improve work quality. As an example, their paper notes that colleagues with experience in areas related to a sales proposal can provide complementary expertise that a team can draw on to generate ideas and identify possible solutions for a prospective client.

The relative richness of direct personal contact also enables colleagues to help a team develop customized and creative products for its client, since they can tailor their advice to the specific situation and engage in two-way discussions to gain insight.

Enlisting the assistance of experienced colleagues who can directly communicate to external constituencies, such as clients, also sends a signal that the organization has deep competence in their area, Haas notes. "Consultants frequently travel to sales meetings with potential clients accompanied by experts from the firm who help them convey the message that the consulting work will be done by competent individuals. Also, the names and credentials of advisors often are listed in proposal documents, identifying them as contributors to the proposal and to the future project work."

The strategy of obtaining personal advice, however, also involves processing costs. Having colleagues attend meetings or appear on client documents can backfire if these colleagues are unwilling to exert the effort needed to fully understand the client's situation, adapt their knowledge to the task at hand or respond to client demands. "Teams need to be aware", says Haas, "that the signaling benefits of expert colleagues can be offset by the possible problems involved."

Further, contacting colleagues who might be able to assist the team and securing their help takes valuable time, both directly and indirectly, when the need to reciprocate arises. Considering the costs of personal advice, the net effect of using this type of knowledge on time savings is unclear and likely to be weak.

One way around this is to utilize codified knowledge, typically electronic documents. According to the researchers, electronic documents affect project performance through the mechanism of reuse, or the proportion of a document's content that a team can incorporate directly into its project outputs. "In the management consulting context, electronic documents often include detailed information and well-developed analyses, such as market data, algorithms, software code and competitor profiles," says Haas. "Reuse of existing information and analyses can help teams to avoid duplicating the efforts already expended by others."

But here, too, processing costs are involved, she notes, since the documents may have to be reworked or augmented to adapt the knowledge they contain to a specific task.

"We find that using codified knowledge in the form of electronic documents saved time during the task, but did not improve work quality or signal competence to clients, whereas in contrast, sharing personal advice improved work quality and signaled competence, but did not save time," Haas says. "This is interesting because managers often believe that capturing and sharing knowledge via document databases can substitute for getting personal advice, and that sharing advice through personal networks can save time. But our findings dispute the claim that different types of knowledge are substitutes for each other. Instead, we show that appropriately matching the type of knowledge used to the requirements of the task at hand -- quality, signaling or speed -- is critical if a firm's knowledge capabilities are to translate into improved performance of its projects."

While part of the challenge is to use knowledge appropriate for the task, Haas notes that organizations also face the problem of setting up teams in ways that help them take full advantage of the knowledge they use. As the researchers note in their paper, many project teams in knowledge-intensive organizations operate in environments than can interfere with their ability to perform well because they are characterized by overload, ambiguity and politics.

These characteristics create problems when teams attempt to obtain and use knowledge from other parts of their organization. "In overloaded environments, project teams face a multitude of possible issues to address and solutions with which to address them, and as a result of ambiguity, there is little way to know which problems and solutions to select," Haas says. "Beyond these problems, multiple stakeholders may have personal agendas and interests in the team's selections that may actually work at cross-purposes with the team's own efforts."

'Time Famine'

In a study of 96 teams in a financial institution, other researchers investigated design features that can help teams avoid such problems by enhancing their processing, sense-making and buffering capabilities. They identified three conditions that can increase the benefits that teams gain from using external knowledge: slack time, work experience and decision-making autonomy.

"The concept of 'slack' refers to the availability of resources that go beyond the requirement for regular activities," notes Haas. "Slack time is the amount of time and attention the team members can commit to the project beyond the minimum required." Studies have found that "time famine" -- or a feeling of having too much to do and not enough time in which to do it -- can reduce team productivity.

Teams with insufficient slack time may download large quantities of documents from a database without checking their quality, skim the papers on their desk superficially -- missing important information -- or fail to solicit sufficiently diverse views by only consulting close colleagues who will return their phone calls promptly. These shortcuts can reduce the benefits of the knowledge inputs they obtain. In contrast, Haas points out, "slack time increases processing capability because team members have more time and attention available to allocate to knowledge-related as well as other task activities."

In ambiguous situations, meanwhile, team members face multiple interpretations of the information, know-how and feedback they obtain, and they must engage in a continuous process of sense making to construct meaning from these inputs. The level of prior work experience possessed by team members may also create absorptive capacity that facilitates the assimilation, interpretation and application of new knowledge, Haas and Hansen note in their paper.

Research points to the conclusion that prior experience generates tacit knowledge that enhances a team member's ability to interpret external knowledge appropriately and apply it effectively, notes Haas in a 2006 paper titled, "Knowledge Gathering, Team Capabilities, and Project Performance in Challenging Work Environments." Additionally, prior experience tends to help team members move up their own learning curves, helping them to build on past successes and avoid past mistakes when they interpret and apply external knowledge.

Consequently, teams with members who have more years of work experience -- with the focal organization or with other companies -- possess greater capability to make sense out of chaos. Further, Haas suggests, team members with longer organizational tenure can make better judgments about how to interpret and apply external knowledge in ways that are appropriate in the particular organizational setting, compared with team members who are relatively new to the organization.

In addition to staffing teams with experienced members, if possible, and giving them sufficient slack time, Haas argues that an organization's project teams should be given sufficient autonomy to make their own decisions. "While many outsiders who provide information, know-how and feedback to team members do not attempt to influence the team unduly, others may promote their own agendas and interests through distortion or manipulation," she says. "If a team cannot buffer itself against efforts to excessively influence its decisions, its project may be derailed by these external agendas and interests."

As Haas notes in her earlier paper, "the buffering capability of a team is greater if it has more autonomy, or collective control, over critical decisions about its objectives, resources, design and processes. When team members have the ability to make independent decisions, they can reject influence attempts that might harm the project and resist giving in to potentially harmful external demands about critical task-related decisions."

In turn, she adds, outsiders tend to interpret greater autonomy as a signal that a team is more capable, making external interference less justifiable. Finally, the buffering advantages of autonomy also can enhance the processing and sense-making capabilities of project teams by freeing the team members to focus more energy on their activities.

Leveraging Knowledge Successfully

Early organizational design research in the 1970s focused on arrangements that increase exchanges of information across internal boundaries, such as official boundary-spanning roles or cross-functional taskforces, Haas points out in her earlier research. Subsequent research on project teams emphasized the importance of going beyond the team's boundaries to find valuable information for the task.

Recent studies of social networks have further illuminated the types of interactions that facilitate information exchanges in organizations, she adds. These examinations of the social side of knowledge sharing have been complemented by research on knowledge management technologies, including electronic database systems and communication innovations ranging from e-mail to teleconferencing.

But for the most part, according to Haas' earlier paper, studies of knowledge gathering have overlooked the costs involved, as well as the difficult problems faced by teams in environments characterized by overload, ambiguity and politics. Yet even if teams manage to gather knowledge successfully, the benefits of gathering that knowledge may be limited by such costs and problems, especially if the teams fail to match their knowledge gathering efforts to the task requirements or lack the capabilities to utilize the knowledge effectively.

Haas' most recent research efforts draw upon studies in the consulting and financial industries, but she says the underlying issues may be found in many organizations that depend on knowledge sharing efforts, including research and development teams in consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and other manufacturing settings, as well as legal, accounting and other professional service firms.

A central concern that these environments usually share is that their projects are non-routine, according to Haas. The difficulties inherent in performing successfully on innovative projects are increased further by the rapid pace of change in many knowledge-intensive industries, she adds.

Overall, research by Haas and Hansen suggests that organizations that care about knowledge sharing must look beyond intermediate goals -- such as promoting knowledge capture, search and transfer -- when setting up and supporting initiatives in this area. To effectively leverage knowledge sharing activities, they must consider the costs as well as the benefits of knowledge sharing processes, and make sure they understand the implications for task-level performance outcomes.

Moving beyond a focus on knowledge sharing itself as the outcome that firms are trying to maximize, Haas and Hansen's research has identified three dimensions of task performance -- work quality, time savings and signals of competence -- that are often critical to the productivity of knowledge work.

The first key implication is that it is unsafe to assume that more knowledge sharing is always better. In fact, the researchers note, using too much of the wrong type of knowledge can harm project performance because there are costs as well as benefits involved. The second key implication is that it unsafe to assume that the net effects of using even the right type of knowledge are always positive. Instead, the design of a project team affects its ability to achieve the desired advantages of knowledge sharing. It is not uncommon for organizations to install costly knowledge management systems, such as document databases, or to spend time promoting knowledge-sharing forums among employees and others.

"These are big investments," says Haas, "and organizations need to understand how to take advantage of them most effectively if they are to fully deliver on the tantalizing promises they offer."

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