Recent comments on the Act-km list are an interesting reflection on the value and utility of questionnaires in knowledge mapping. My view remains unchanged - questionnaires need to be used with extreme caution and are most times not the best way to proceed. WHY?
David Snowden points the way:
Context is difficult to explicate and there are grave problems with bias, extrapolation, unintended "Hawthorne effects", sampling representation and question structure. It is not possible to overcome these through simply conducting a pilot, including open-ended replies or allowing free-form answers. Any understanding of knowledge work requires collecting anecdotes, surfacing implicit knowledge via dialog, observing complex interactions between team members and boundary objects and unraveling the nature of distributed meaning, memory and learned responses.
Studies of knowledge work require immersion, careful ethnographic procedures, engagement, and a deep knowledge of the environment, actors, culture and assumptions that encapsulate the situation. Studies of sense-making, knowledge sharing, learning, decision making and tacit transfers, take time, need expert observation, require trust and do not suffer short-cuts lightly.
Some of the best work in this area is the naval bridge navigation work of Edwin Hutchins. His book "Cognition in the wild" is required reading before embarking on a knowledge mapping venture IMO. Knowledge sharing is far more complex than "who you get help from", colleagues you trust, documents, forums, meetings and networks you have access to, overt ties to reward structures or 'opportunities' for information exchange. We need to be aware of identity, self-perception, subtle cultural messages, ability, time pressures, desire to engage in creative abrasion, tolerance for ambiguity and altruistic drives.
YES questions are the key - NO questionnaires just do not cut it!