Transactive Memory Systems in Organizations: Matching Tasks, Expertise, and People
Transactive memory is the shared division of cognitive labor with respect to the encoding, storage, retrieval, and communication of information from different knowledge domains, which often develops in groups and can lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness. Although discussions of transactive memory theory suggest that components of the theory are dynamic, research tends to treat transactive memory as evolving linearly, using static measures rather than assessing development over time. In response, we offer a model emphasizing both linear and cyclical aspects of transactive memory development in work groups, and we propose that task is a major influence on developmental processes. We introduce task representation and the task-expertise-person (TEP) unit as basic constructs involved in transactive memory development, and we provide a dynamic model of how TEP units are constructed, evaluated, and utilized. Regarding observable changes over time, we propose that transactive memory systems can vary in terms of accuracy (the degree to which group members' perceptions about others' task-related expertise are accurate), sharedness (the degree to which members have a shared representation of the transactive memory system), and validation (the degree to which group members participate in the transactive memory system). Convergence is the optimal state of transactive memory systems and reflects high levels of accuracy, sharedness, and validation.