Transactive Memory Systems in the ‘Digital Age’

Part of the Innovation und Entrepreneurship book series (INNOV)


The increasing ubiquity and the rapidly improving performance of the information, computing, communication, and connectivity technologies have fundamentally changed the way in which we process information. For the past thirty years, transactive memory systems (TMS) theory has helped us understand how individuals co-specialize and divide cognitive labor. However, the underlying assumptions of the theory no longer adequately represent the changed reality of collective information processing. Therefore, new research progress will require realigning those assumptions with technology-induced changes to reflect the onset of digitalization. As a foundation for future research, this paper proposes several conceptual changes in TMS theory. In particular, this paper investigates digitalization’s impact on boundaries of knowledge processing systems, transparency of meta-knowledge and transaction partners, and information processing capacity and demands. Implications for TMS theory are discussed, in particular for the type of cues used to infer expertise and credibility, for the scope of these inferences, and for more collective and collaborative forms of expertise assessment. Furthermore, this paper adapts and expands the structural TMS component ‘meta-knowledge’ and introduces a new process to TMS theory. Together, these changes contribute to our understanding of collective information processing in the digital age.


transactive memory systems digitalization boundaries technology and social knowledge processing systems 


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© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FB WirtschaftswissenschaftenUniversität PassauPassauGermany

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