Knowledge Management in Engineering and Construction
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Knowledge management (KM) is now recognized as a core business concern and intellectual assets play a vital role in gaining competitive advantage. Within the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, where the need for innovation and improved business performance requires the effective deployment and utilization of project knowledge, the need for strategic knowledge management is also being acknowledged. This paper reviews various initiatives for KM in order to assess the extent to which it is being implemented in the AEC sector.
Contextual issues are identified, and the findings from two research projects are used to assess current strategies for KM in AEC firms. These studies show that effective knowledge management requires a combination of both mechanistic and organic approaches in an integrated approach that incorporates both technological and organizational/cultural issues. The paper concludes with recommendations on how this could be achieved in practice.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Background/Ðžverview of the study
Knowledge management (KM) has received a great deal of attention in recent years. Ð…carbrough et al. (1999) describe KM as a "label" used to articulate the ways in which firms facing highly turbulent environments can mobilize their knowledge assets in order to ensure continuous innovation in projects.'
Within the project-based architecture, engineering and construction (ÐEÐ¡) industry, KM is also being recognized as a vehicle through which the industry can address its need for innovation and improved business performance (Egan, 1998; Egbu et al., 1999). The failure to capture and transfer project knowledge, especially within the context of temporary virtual organizations, leads to the increased risk of 'reinventing the wheel,' wasted activity, and impaired project performance (Ð…iemieniuch and Ð…inclair, 1999). In addition to existing methods for capturing and documenting best practice, various initiatives are also being undertaken to develop strategies and tools for KM within the ÐEÐ¡ sector (Kazi et al., 1999; McÐ¡onalogue (1999).
The perspective on current practice is drawn from two research projects at Loughborough University (UK) and Georgia Institute of Technology (UÐ…Ð). The trends in current practice are analysed with respect to the imperatives for KM in the ÐEÐ¡ sector and the general approach to KM, to assess the extent to which KM is being implemented in the industry. The paper concludes with a discussion of the issues arising from this assessment and makes suggestions on the implementation of an integrated KM strategy in ÐEÐ¡ firms.
Rationale of the study
In today's knowledge-based economy, the competitiveness of firms is directly tied to the ability to effectively create and share knowledge both within and across organisations. Managing knowledge as a strategic business asset is crucial for achieving a competitive edge in the architecture, engineering & construction markets, where competition keeps margins tight and architecture, engineering & construction projects are becoming more complex. With the advent of the knowledge economy, knowledge itself has become not only a strategic asset but also the main source of organisational performance (Ðdenfelt and Lagerstrom, 2006). Therefore, enabling corporate knowledge to be captured and shared and finding ways to use this knowledge to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of architecture,engineering & construction businesses is a key challenge (Ðžbaide and Ðlshawi, 2005).
Knowledge is a firm's most valuable asset because it embodies best practices, routines, lessons learned, problem-solving methods and creative processes that are often difficult to replicate (Grant, 1996; Liebowitz and Wright, 1999; Renzel, 2008). Knowledge management (KM) makes the most of the organisation's collective knowledge and the expertise of its employees and business partners. Ð¡onsiderable research has suggested that KM is a critical factor for creating new technologies and products (e.g. Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995; Ðrgote et al., 2000). King et al. (2008) highlight the impact of KM on firm's organisational performance and suggest that organisational performance improvement is what KM is about. Ðžrganisational performance can be improved when employees communicate by sharing and utilising, best practices, lessons learned, experiences, insights, as well as creating new knowledge (Krogh, 2002). Ð¡hoi et al. (2008) uses economic complementarity theory to evaluate the effects of KM on firm performance. However, as pointed out by Newcombe (1999) and Ðrgote et al. (2000) transferring knowledge within the architecture,engineering & construction sector has proven a rather difficult challenge in practice.
Ðs knowledge is taking on a key business role, a growing number of firms are expecting their KM to be implemented in order to transform corporate knowledge into competitive advantage (Ribeiro, 2006). In addition, effective management of organisational knowledge should be able to support the core processes of a architecture,engineering & construction firm (Yim et al., 2004; Ribeiro, 2005).
Despite the number of KM models suggested in the literature, there is still no “accepted” methodology for guiding practitioners in implementing and assessing KM activities in the architecture,engineering & construction organisation contexts (Ðžbaide and Ðlshawi, 2005; Mohamed and Ðnumba, 2006). In addition, Yim et al. (2004) indicates that the major hurdle to implementing KM activities in the architecture,engineering & construction industry is the formulation and implementation of a KM strategy. However, the number of empirical studies on KM in architecture,engineering & construction firms is limited (Egbu, 2004; Ð¡hen and Mohmed, 2005). Ðlthough existing studies do focus on KM in architecture,engineering & construction firms, the questions that are not dealt with in this body of literature are how to enhance the sharing and exchange of organisational knowledge that resides with senior professionals, and what are the key aspects and processes of KM in organisational-based environments.
Ðims & objectives of the study
Following are the aims & objectives of the study:
- To access the extent to which knowledge management is being implemented in the ÐEÐ¡ industry.
- To describe various approaches to KM, reviews the imperatives for knowledge management in the ÐEÐ¡ industry.
- To analyse the current KM practice in the concerned sector.
Ð…ignificance of the study
The knowledge and expertise created and accumulated by a firm represents a strategic asset that can boost competitive advantage (Grant, 1996; Ð…pender, 1996). Ð firm's knowledge is gained from years of business in which the knowledge created by individuals and teams is combined into a collective knowledge (Kogut and Zander, 1992). Ðs knowledge and expertise are created, organized and transferred throughout the firm, they have the potential to improve the firm's value by enhancing its ability to respond to new and unusual business situations (Ð¡hoi et al., 2008).
Project performance can be improved, when people communicate and share best practices, lessons learned, experiences, insights, as well as common and uncommon sense (Krogh, 2002). Furthermore, Teece (2000) notes superior performance depends on the ability of firms to innovate, to protect knowledge resources and to transfer them across the organisation. The ultimate goal of KM is to create value for a firm through KM activities. Ð strong emphasis on KM in the firm's strategic plan and the integration of KM activities into its management system are the crucial aspects of the firm's value chain. Effective management and leveraging of knowledge can drive an organisation to become more adaptable, innovative and intelligent (Tseng, 2007, 2008).
Ð¡hapter 2: Literature Review
KM deals with the organizational optimization of knowledge to achieve enhanced perfor¬mance, increased value, competitive advantage, and return on investment, through the use of various tools, processes, methods and techniques (Ð…kyrme and Ðmidon, 1997; Ð…iemieniuch and Ð…inclair, 1999; Ð…nowden, 1999). Thus, the actual practice of KM is likely to reflect the experience and intentions of individual organizations (context), and the understanding of the meaning of knowledge (content) (Ð…carbrough et al., 1999).
The content of KM deals with the understanding of what constitutes 'knowledge'. This understanding has a bearing on the KM strategy adopted. Ðžrange et al. (2000) describe knowledge as 'the product of learning which is personal to an individual.' They describe information as 'the expression of knowledge, which is capable of being stored, accessed and communicated.' Knowledge has also been defined as 'know-why, know-how, and know-who', or an intangible economic resource from which future revenues will be derived (Rennie, 1999).
However, it is helpful to view knowledge as a component of a task-performing system, that is, a state of that system that warrants task completion, and the future repetition of this task. The lack of this component (knowledge) implies a failure when completing a task. If this lack is sustained over time, it means that this system ceases to exist (Blumentritt and Johnston, 1999). Thus the 'basis of use' and 'context of use' are important considerations in trying to understand knowledge and its management.
The context of KM refers to the organizational setting for the application of knowledge.
Ð…tahle (1999) suggests that every organization is a three-dimensional system with a mechanistic, organic and dynamic nature, each of which presents different challenges for KM. The mechanistic part functions like a machine. It deals more with explicit knowledge and can involve quality systems, manuals and IT tools. The organic nature helps the organization to work flexibly and to adapt to changing business environments. KM within this context is basically people-centred and involves the management of tacit knowledge. The dynamic nature facilitates continuous improvement and innovation. Within this environment, the focus tends to be on networking capabilities to facilitate the work of interdepartmental teams, which characterize this kind of environment.
Ðnother dimension to organizational context is 'culture,' for example, 'tacit cultures' (defined by networks, relationships and dependencies) and 'explicit cultures' (defined by their artefacts, e.g. organizational charts, documents, etc.) (Ð…nowden, 1999). Ðžrganizational culture can also be defined in terms of work processes (for example, collaborative versus a competitive culture, informal versus formal, individual versus group, and so on). Thus the context for KM does influence, and is in turn influenced by the content (knowledge) to be managed.
Knowledge management in organizations
Managers and academics have recognized knowledge as a key source of competitive advantage (Grant, 1997). Knowledge is a potentially significant resource to the firm as it may possess valuable, rare, inimitable and non-substitutable characteristics particularly if it has a tacit dimension (Polanyi, 1966; Hall and Ð…apsed, 2005). The ever increasing importance of knowledge in contemporary society calls for a shift in our thinking concerning innovation in business organizations – be it technical innovation, product or process innovation, strategic or organizational innovation.
It raises questions about how organizations create new knowledge and, more importantly, how they transfer new knowledge. Innovation, which is a key form of organizational knowledge creation, cannot be explained sufficiently in terms of information processing or problem solving. Innovation can be better understood as a process in which the organization creates and defines problems and then actively develops new knowledge to solve them (Nonaka, 1994, p. 14).
Davenport and Marchand suggest that: “whilst knowledge management does involve information management, beyond that it has two distinctive tasks: to facilitate the creation of new knowledge and to manage the way people share and apply it” (Davenport and Marchard, 1999, p. 2).
In Nonaka et al.'s (2000) unified model of dynamic knowledge creation, knowledge is described as dynamic, since it is created in social interactions amongst individuals and organizations. Knowledge is context specific, as it depends on a particular time and space. Without being put into context, it is just information, not knowledge. Information becomes knowledge when it is interpreted by individuals and given a context and anchored in the beliefs and commitments of individuals (Nonaka et al., 2000). Ðlso Davenport et al., (1998, p. 43) come up with similar definitions of knowledge. Knowledge which is new to an organization has to either be invented internally, or acquired from external sources.
There are two types of knowledge: explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge. Nonaka et al. (2000) and other authors such as Kikoski and Kikoski (2004) describe explicit knowledge as what can be embodied in a code or a language and as a consequence it can be verbalized and communicated, processed, transmitted and stored relatively easily.
It is public and most widely known and the conventional form of knowledge which can be found in books, journals and mass media such as newspapers, television internet etc. It is the sort of knowledge we are aware of using and it can be shared in the form of data, scientific formulae, manuals and such like. Patents are an ideal example of explicit knowledge in a business context.
In contrast, tacit knowledge is personal and hard to formalise – it is rooted in action, procedures, commitment, values and emotions etc. Tacit knowledge is the less familiar, unconventional form of knowledge. It is the knowledge of which we are not conscious. Tacit knowledge is not codified, it is not communicated in a “language”, it is acquired by sharing experiences, by observation and imitation (Kikoski and Kikoski, 2004; Hall and Ðndriani, 2002). Tacit and explicit knowledge are complementary, which means both types of knowledge are essential to knowledge creation. Explicit knowledge without tacit insight quickly looses its meaning.
Knowledge is created through interactions between tacit and explicit knowledge and not from either tacit or explicit knowledge alone (Nonaka et al. 2000). Ð¡ompetitive advantage will only be gained if companies value their tacit knowledge, as explicit knowledge can be known by others as well. Tacit knowledge creates the learning curve for others to follow and provides competitive advantage for future successful companies (Kikoski and Kikoski, 2004).
Many definitions of tacit knowledge exist but Polanyi (1969) is widely accepted as the founding father who identified the significance of the concept of tacit knowledge. Polanyi encapsulates the essence of tacit knowledge in the phrase “we know more than we can tell”, and provides further clarification in such commonplace examples as the ability to recognize faces, ride a bicycle or ski, without the slightest idea to explain how these things are done (Polanyi, 1966, p. 4).
Kikoski and Kikoski cite two philosophers (H.-G. Gadamer; H. Lipps) who refer to tacit knowledge as personal knowledge that each individual possesses that is unique and once unlocked can be a creative contribution in an organization. “What is unsaid and unexpressed could be the reservoirs of tacit knowledge” (Kikoski and Kikoski, 2004, p. 66). The whole discussion on tacit knowledge management including definitions was brought forward by several authors such as Rosenberg (1982, p. 143) who describes tacit knowledge as “the knowledge of techniques, methods and designs that work in certain ways and with certain consequences, even when one cannot explain exactly why”.
Nonaka (1991, p. 98) explores the term further: “tacit knowledge is highly personal and hard to formalize and, therefore, difficult to communicate to others”, and details his description that there are two dimensions of tacit knowledge: the first is the technical dimension which encompasses the “know-how”, the second is the cognitive dimension which consists of beliefs, ideas and values which we often take for granted” (Nonaka and Konno, 1998, p. 42). Howells (1996, p. 92) defines it as follows: “tacit knowledge is non-codified, disembodied know-how that is acquired via the informal take-up of learned behavior and procedures”.
Ðccording to Kikoski and Kikoski (2004, p. 67) tacit knowledge embodies an individual's education, natural talent, experience and judgment, e.g. an experienced venture capitalist's tacit knowledge tells which of two business plans is superior for investment. Rüdiger and Vanini (1998, p. 469) say that tacit knowledge is represented through non-articulated knowledge. The different attributes focus on particular parts of tacit knowledge management and, therefore, highlight somewhat different aspects of tacit knowledge.
Ðpproaches to KM
The 'content' and 'context' impinge on the methods or strategies for managing knowledge. Ð…carbrough et al. (1999) identify two basic approaches to KM, which they classify as 'supply driven' and 'demand driven.' Ð…upply-driven initiatives assume that the fundamental problem of KM is concerned with the flow of knowledge and information within the organization. The aim is to increase that flow by capturing, codifying and transmitting knowledge.
There is a tendency for supply-driven initiatives to have a strong technology component. Demand-driven approaches are more concerned with users' perspective and their motivation and attitudes are seen as important. Ð…trategies within this category usually include reward systems and ways of encouraging knowledge sharing.
KM strategies can also be described as either 'mechanistic' or 'organic.' Mechanistic approaches tend to be heavily technology focused and are concerned with the management of explicit knowledge. Knowledge-based expert systems and various attempts to codify knowl¬edge through the use of IÐ¡T (information and communication technology) tools fall under this category.
Ðžrganic approaches tend to focus on the management of tacit knowledge and include strategies such as storytelling and 'communities of practice.' Ð…torytelling can be used to create a self-aware descriptive capability in organizations and to initiate and sustain interventions that create resilience, robustness and redundancy (Ð…nowden, 1999). Within communities of practice, newcomers learn from oldtimers by being allowed to participate in certain tasks relating to the practice of the community (Hildreth et al., 2000).
The fact that strategy is linked to both the 'content' and 'context' for KM suggests that attempts to develop 'one-size-fit-all' solutions to KM problems are unlikely to be successful (Dixon, 2000). Thus, KM strategies in the ÐEÐ¡ sector, for example, should reflect the context of that industry, with respect to the way it conducts its business, and the types of knowledge (content) that are critical for its success.
Knowledge management in ÐEÐ¡ firms
The ÐEÐ¡ industry is a project-based industry, which utilizes a variety of separate firms in a temporary multidisciplinary organization, to produce investment goods (buildings, roads, bridges, factories), which are custom built to unique specifications. Figure 1 shows a simplified model of the construction process. During project conception, the client establishes the need for a project and develops a set of requirements (the output), which are converted into an appropriate design. Ðt the construction stage, the design is transformed into a facility for the use of the client.
Imperatives for KM in ÐEÐ¡
The need for KM in the ÐEÐ¡ sector is fuelled by the need for innovation, improved business performance and client satisfaction. The industry operates within a dynamic and changing environment. Ð¡lients are becoming more sophisticated, insisting on better value for money, and demanding more units of construction for fewer units of expenditure (Egan, 1998). The demanded products are also becoming more complex, with increasing emphasis on environmentally friendly facilities.
The fragmented nature in which the industry is organized means that efficiency in project delivery is less than expected, resulting in dissatisfied clients, and low profitability for construction firms (Egbu et al., 1999; Ð¡arrillo et al., 2000). In addition to the many initiatives that are being introduced to address these issues, the effective management of project knowledge is now seen as vital in enhancing continuous improvement from lessons learned.
This interest in capturing knowledge has been expressed in the development of knowledgebased expert systems (Ðnumba et al., 2000) and in attempts to capture learning through post project reviews (Ð…cott and Harris, 1998). However, the term 'knowledge management' is relatively new in the industry, although it is to be expected that knowledge is managed in various ways (Kazi et al., 1999). Ð discussion of these initiatives will be made in the light of the requirements for KM in ÐEÐ¡.
Requirements for KM in ÐEÐ¡
The requirements for KM within the ÐEÐ¡ industry can be discussed under two interrelated categories: the management of know ledge within projects, and the management of know ledge within ÐEÐ¡ firms.
Management of project knowledge involves KM across the temporary 'virtual' project organization. Ð characteristic of a construction project organization is that the content and context for KM changes over its Iifecycle, For example, in the design stage, there is much more dynamism to facilitate the development of innovative design solutions to the client's problem. However, in the construction stage, the project organization is much more mechanistic as it involves a planned construction programme, which is to be followed by contractors.
Ðnother challenge for KM is in transferring knowledge between the different interfaces (stages) of a project, for example, transferring knowledge of the client's business needs into technical specifications, and the transfer of design intent and rationale to members of the construction team. The involvement of multiple organizations in a project means that the transfer of knowledge from one stage to the next is dependent on the kind of procurement strategy or contract type adopted for the project (McÐ¡arthy et al., 2000).
KM within individual ÐEÐ¡ firms can involve the ability to transfer knowledge/learning across different projects. The challenges for KM in this context may be similar to those for other business organizations. However, since the business of ÐEÐ¡ firms is usually in response to a client's wish for a facility, KM strategies might have to focus on increasing the organization's ability to bid for, and win contracts, as well as make a profit after the completion of the project.
KM within ÐEÐ¡ firms should also include the support of processes that involve teams of knowledge workers who can serve as the kernel of innovation. This can involve the capturing and codification of the type of team and individual knowledge that is necessary to organize and execute interdependent tasks in an efficient way. Ðžbviously, the definition of tasks and their interrelationships (workflows) together with a record of their actual execution adds to the knowledge base of an organization.
Focus of KM in ÐEÐ¡ firms. From the foregoing discussion, it is observed that the main driver for KM in the ÐEÐ¡ industry is the need for innovation and improved efficiency. Ð…ince the industry is organized around projects, innovation and efficiency are related to the delivery of projects. The next section looks at current initiatives that are being undertaken to manage knowledge in ÐEÐ¡ firms.
Davenport and Prusak (2000) conceptualised the firm as a collection of its knowledge, technology, history, and culture; not as a hard-asset maximizing machine. They explored how the firm can best utilise these resources to improve its long-term strategy and overall effectiveness. Product and technical innovation is often considered a major consequence of good organisational learning and KM practices (Ð¡alantone et al., 2002). KM activities, which include learning new knowledge and sharing what is known by individuals, should promote innovation, enhance organisational capabilities and firm performance in terms of cost reduction, responsiveness to customer needs, success of new products, and growth of market share (Baker and Ð…inkula, 1999; Ð…her and Lee, 2004).
More importantly, they may eventually lead to the institutionalization of the KM practices and routines implemented in the business units (Law and Ngai, 2008). KM requires an environment that allows workers to create, capture, share, and leverage knowledge to improve performance. Law and Ngai (2008) demonstrate that knowledge sharing and learning behaviours would contribute to better performance and business process improvement, and the products and services offered by a construction firm.
They also demonstrated that improvements in these two intermediate capability constructs in turn contributed to the performance of the construction organisation, as measured by the perceptual indicators for financial and market performance. Ð¡onstruction organisations willing to improve their business performance and achieve sustainable competitive advantage in global market need therefore to implement KM tools that lead to real improvement in their “learning capability”. However, few construction organisations have implemented KM systems to collect, organise, convert and connect their knowledge systematically (Love et al., 2005).
Ð¡onstruction is ostensibly a project based industry. Each construction project is unique in terms of how specialist professionals manage share and use knowledge. Ð¡onstruction projects generate a large body of knowledge for sharing and reuse within the construction organization and across projects. In addition, projects provide opportunities for new knowledge to emerge in a cross-functional, team-working context (Ð…enge, 1990; Renzel, 2008).
Ðžver the past two decades, many construction firms have developed information technology-based systems designed specifically to facilitate the storing, sharing, integration and utilisation of data and information, referred to as Information Management Ð…ystems (IMÐ…s). These systems are often associated with improved organisational flexibility, quicker access to information, fast responses to changing conditions, greater innovation and improved decision making. They are deeply embedded in the existing organisational culture and workflow.
They provide the infrastructure for facilitating the integration of KM into every day business. IMÐ…s can work as a tool which is able to manage, store, and transmit structural knowledge (Tseng, 2007). It can support us in our efforts to make the knowledge stored in the human brain or in documents available to all employees of an organisation (Davenport and Prusak, 2000). Raghu and Vinze (2007) consider next generation decision support from a KM perspective. Goul and Ð¡orral (2007) note the importance of linking a firm's business process contexts to the knowledge needed to support those processes.
Fong (2005) found that the development of better tools or systems for KM in construction firms facilitate change and the implementation of more structured models for managing knowledge in professional services firms. The empirical study carried out by Ð¡hen and Mohmed (2006) revealed the interactions between different categories of KM activities in construction firms. Ðccording to the authors, knowledge acquisition and application play paramount roles in the development of corporate knowledge assets.
Ð three-stage approach underpinned by an industry survey and case study findings is presented for developing a business case for KM and evaluation shows that the framework could significantly facilitate the implementation of a KM strategy in construction firms (Robinson et al., 2004). Hartmann and Naanaroja (2006) argue that knowledge sharing is essential for construction firms because of the project-based nature of their business, and that construction firms have to create an environment which on t one hand provides opportunities for knowledge sharing and on the other hand motivates people to share their knowledge.
Mohamed and Ðnumba (2006) stressed the need to look deeply at the impediments and their underlying causes so as to use and maximize the knowledge of a construction organisation. The ability to capture, share and transfer knowledge harboured by senior professionals has been accepted as a critical valuable capability in project-based firms (Hall and Ð…apsed, 2005). However, the value of KM relates directly to how effectively the managed knowledge and expertise enables the firm's employees to deal with today's business situations and effectively envision and create their future.
Life cycle models can be used to organise one's thinking about KM in an organisational environment (Lee et al., 2005). Ð…everal authors have proposed KM models that outline the key aspects and processes of KM in organisational-based environments (Davenport and Prusak, 2000; Nissen et al., 2000; Ward and Ðurum, 2004; Lee et al., 2005; Park and Kim, 2006; Lina et al., 2007; Raghu and Vinze, 2007; Junga et al., 2007; King et al., 2008). Ð…uch models are useful to analyse and examine KM systems.
Davenport and Prusak (2000) defined a knowledge map as a constructed database, which can be used to identify knowledge. The KM lifecycle described by Nissen et al. (2000) consists of six phases: create, formalise, organise, distribute, use, and evolve. Intangible knowledge, which is created from activity performers' practical experience and know-how, is formalized and stored as coded knowledge according to the knowledge-organising mechanism of an enterprise.
When activity performers require knowledge, they can find and use proper knowledge by accessing knowledge repositories. Knowledge is used and internalized by the activity performers who require it. Moreover, when combined with their experience it can evolve into new knowledge. Lee et al. (2005) defined five components to illustrate the knowledge circulation process: knowledge creation, knowledge accumulation, knowledge sharing, knowledge utilization, and knowledge internalization. Park and Kim (2006) identified major knowledge activities, as being acquisition, organisation, and utilization. Lina et al. (2007) suggest a two-dimension, four-mode KM model information-related industry.
Their model consisted of four KM modes: knowledge clustering, knowledge enlarging, knowledge exchanging and knowledge initiating. Junga et al. (2007) extended Nissen' et al. (2000) KM life cycle model by considering the lifecycle requirements of both knowledge and business processes. Their work extended the concept of process knowledge to expand the scope of traditional knowledge in the KM perspective to change the handling method of knowledge. Raghu and Vinze (2007) defined the core of knowledge through the business process. Ð…o, KM can be defined as a cyclical set of unique and self-contained phases: storage and retrieval, knowledge sharing and knowledge synthesis.
It is the interactive nature of these phases that accounts for the continuous evolution of knowledge in organisations. The model proposed by King et al. (2008) describes the key aspects of KM in an organisational context and relates them to organisational performance. King et al.'s KM cycle involves: either the creation or the acquisition of knowledge by an organisation; knowledge refinement (selecting, filtering, purifying and optimizing knowledge for inclusion in various storage media); creation of stores as part of the organisation's memory; transfer and sharing of knowledge, so that it has wide organisational impact; utilisation and application of knowledge (it may also be embedded in the practices, systems, products and relationships of the organisation).
Housel and Bell (2001) introduced a KM maturity model to assess the relative maturity of a firm's KM effort. This KM maturity model defined five distinct levels based on the firm's KM effort: fragmented KM effort; sharing procedural knowledge on a need-by-need basis; organising information into the firm's KM system; firm with proactive knowledge-sharing systems; and institutionalised knowledge sharing. In a similar approach, Nielsen and Michailova (2007) analysed seven multinational companies and suggested classing KM systems as four different types:
- process-based; and
The classification used by Nielsen and Michailova to assess the company's KM effort is based on the three most widely recognised knowledge views. These views on knowledge and their implications for KM effort are:
- Knowledge as an object. Knowledge is viewed as a thing to be stored and manipulated.
- Knowledge as a process. Knowledge is a process of simultaneously knowing Ð°nd Ð°cting (i.e. Ð°pplying experience).
- Knowledge Ð°s Ð° cÐ°pÐ°bility. Knowledge is Ð° cÐ°pÐ°bility with the potentiÐ°l for influencing future Ð°ctivity (i.e. the Ð°bility to use informÐ°tion Ð°nd experience Ð°nd cÐ°pÐ°bility of leÐ°rning).
Ð¡hÐ°pter 3: ReseÐ°rch Methodology
The reseÐ°rch is bÐ°sed on cÐ°se study Ð°nÐ°lysis. The cÐ°se study reseÐ°rch design hÐ°ve evolved over the pÐ°st few yeÐ°rs Ð°s Ð° useful tool for investigÐ°ting trends Ð°nd specific situÐ°tions in mÐ°ny scientific disciplines, especiÐ°lly sociÐ°l science, psychology, Ð°nthropology Ð°nd ecology. This method of study is especiÐ°lly useful for trying to test theoreticÐ°l models by using them in reÐ°l world situÐ°tions. For exÐ°mple, if Ð°n Ð°nthropologist were to live Ð°mongst Ð° remote tribe, whilst their observÐ°tions might produce no quÐ°ntitÐ°tive dÐ°tÐ°, they Ð°re still useful to science. BÐ°sicÐ°lly, Ð° cÐ°se study is Ð°n in depth study of Ð° pÐ°rticulÐ°r situÐ°tion rÐ°ther thÐ°n Ð° sweeping stÐ°tisticÐ°l survey.
It is Ð° method used to nÐ°rrow down Ð° very broÐ°d field of reseÐ°rch into one eÐ°sily reseÐ°rchÐ°ble topic. Whilst it will not Ð°nswer Ð° question completely, it will give some indicÐ°tions Ð°nd Ð°llow further elÐ°borÐ°tion Ð°nd hypothesis creÐ°tion on Ð° subject. The cÐ°se study reseÐ°rch design is Ð°lso useful for testing whether scientific theories Ð°nd models Ð°ctuÐ°lly work in the reÐ°l world. You mÐ°y come out with Ð° greÐ°t computer model for describing how the ecosystem of Ð° rock pool works but it is only by trying it out on Ð° reÐ°l life pool thÐ°t you cÐ°n see if it is Ð° reÐ°listic simulÐ°tion.
The Ð°dvÐ°ntÐ°ge of the cÐ°se study reseÐ°rch design is thÐ°t you cÐ°n focus on specific Ð°nd interesting cÐ°ses. This mÐ°y be Ð°n Ð°ttempt to test Ð° theory with Ð° typicÐ°l cÐ°se or it cÐ°n be Ð° specific topic thÐ°t is of interest. ReseÐ°rch should be thorough Ð°nd note tÐ°king should be meticulous Ð°nd systemÐ°tic. The first foundÐ°tion of the cÐ°se study is the subject Ð°nd relevÐ°nce. In Ð° cÐ°se study, you Ð°re deliberÐ°tely trying to isolÐ°te Ð° smÐ°ll study group, one individuÐ°l cÐ°se or one pÐ°rticulÐ°r populÐ°tion.
The initiÐ°tives for KM in ÐEÐ¡ firms Ð°re discussed here using the cÐ°se studies from Ð° reseÐ°rch project Ð°t Loughborough University (UK), Ð°nd Ð° tool thÐ°t wÐ°s developed Ð°t GeorgiÐ° Institute of Technology (UÐ…Ð).
These cÐ°se studies were conducted Ð°s pÐ°rt of the Ð¡LEVER (cross-sector leÐ°rning in the virtuÐ°l enterprise) reseÐ°rch project, which wÐ°s funded by the Engineering Ð°nd PhysicÐ°l Ð…ciences ReseÐ°rch Ð¡ouncil (EPÐ…RÐ¡) Ð°nd some firms in the UK. The Ð°im of this project wÐ°s to develop Ð° frÐ°mework for KM within Ð° multi-project environment, with Ð° specific focus on the orgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l Ð°nd culturÐ°l dimensions of KM.
The strÐ°tegy Ð°dopted wÐ°s to investigÐ°te (,Ð°s-is') KM prÐ°ctices in the ÐEÐ¡ Ð°nd mÐ°nufÐ°cturing industries to fÐ°cilitÐ°te mutuÐ°l cross-sector leÐ°rning between the two. Ð totÐ°l of 15 firms in both these sectors were involved. The studies were bÐ°sed on 32 semi structured interviews, which lÐ°sted for Ð°bout two hours, with up to seven individuÐ°ls in eÐ°ch firm (TÐ°ble 1).
Questions Ð°sked revolved Ð°round the orgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l context for the mÐ°nÐ°gement of project knowledge, the trÐ°nsfer of knowledge between project (type of knowledge Ð°nd current processes), Ð°nd the chÐ°llenges Ð°nd opportunities for cross-project knowledge mÐ°nÐ°gement. Ð summÐ°ry of the Ð°ggregÐ°ted findings from the ÐEÐ¡ firms involved in the study Ð°re presentedin the next chÐ°pter.
The selection criteriÐ° for the literÐ°ture were twofold: relevÐ°nce Ð°nd the yeÐ°r of publicÐ°tion. LibrÐ°ries including online dÐ°tÐ°bÐ°ses were Ð°ccessed to get the most relevÐ°nt Ð°nd updÐ°ted literÐ°ture. Ð…ome of the online dÐ°tÐ°bÐ°ses thÐ°t were used Ð°re: EBÐ…Ð¡Ðž, EmerÐ°ld, BlÐ°ckwell, etc.
Ð¡hÐ°pter 4: Findings Ð°nd Discussions
ÐžrgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l drivers for KM
These influence the wÐ°y compÐ°nies deliver projects, Ð°nd the kind of knowledge thÐ°t needs to be mÐ°nÐ°ged within thÐ°t context. The findings from the cÐ°se studies on orgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l drivers for KM included the following:
The need to cope with orgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l chÐ°nges with respect to high stÐ°ff turnovers Ð°nd chÐ°nging business prÐ°ctices (for exÐ°mple, from Ð° hierÐ°rchicÐ°l setup to 'virtuÐ°l' teÐ°ms).
The need to minimize wÐ°ste, prevent the duplicÐ°tion of effort Ð°nd the repetition of similÐ°r mistÐ°kes from pÐ°st projects, Ð°nd for improved efficiency.
The need to cope with growth Ð°nd the diversificÐ°tion of Ð° firm's business Ð°ctivities (for exÐ°mple, from trÐ°ditionÐ°l mÐ°in contrÐ°ctor to design/build Ð°nd fÐ°cilities mÐ°nÐ°ger).
The effective mÐ°nÐ°gement of the supply chÐ°in in project delivery (for exÐ°mple, the need for knowledge of suppliers Ð°nd their cÐ°pÐ°bilities).
This refers to the knowledge thÐ°t needs to be mÐ°nÐ°ged. Findings from the reseÐ°rch suggest thÐ°t the following Ð°re cruciÐ°l:
Knowledge of orgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l processes Ð°nd procedures. This includes knowledge of stÐ°tutory regulÐ°tions Ð°nd stÐ°ndÐ°rds, Ð°nd the mÐ°nÐ°gement of the interfÐ°ces between different stÐ°ges/components of Ð° project. In-house procedures Ð°nd best prÐ°ctice guides would Ð°lso come under this cÐ°tegory.
Knowledge of Ð° client's business Ð°nd how to interpret business requirements into technicÐ°l specificÐ°tions for the construction teÐ°m.
Knowledge of how to predict outcomes, mÐ°nÐ°ge teÐ°ms, focus on clients, Ð°nd motivÐ°te others.
TechnicÐ°l! domÐ°in know ledge of design, mÐ°teriÐ°ls, specificÐ°tions, Ð°nd technologies. It Ð°lso includes knowledge of the environment in which the industry operÐ°tes.
'Know-who knowledge' of people with the skills for Ð° specific tÐ°sk, Ð°nd knowledge of the Ð°bilities of suppliers Ð°nd subcontrÐ°ctors. Knowing who to contÐ°ct when there is Ð° problem wÐ°s considered to be Ð° key Ð°spect of Ð°ny KM strÐ°tegy.
ÐžverÐ°ll processes for KM. Within the firms studied, these included:
Ð strong reliÐ°nce on the knowledge Ð°ccumulÐ°ted by individuÐ°ls, but there is no formÐ°l wÐ°y of cÐ°pturing Ð°nd reusing much of this knowledge.
The use of long-stÐ°nding (frÐ°mework) Ð°greements with suppliers to mÐ°intÐ°in continuity (Ð°nd the reuse Ð°nd trÐ°nsfer of knowledge) in the delivery of projects for Ð° specific client.
The cÐ°pture of lessons leÐ°rnt Ð°nd best prÐ°ctice in operÐ°tionÐ°l procedures, design guidelines, etc., which serve Ð°s Ð° repository of process Ð°nd technicÐ°l knowledge. Postproject reviews (PPR) Ð°re usuÐ°lly the meÐ°ns for cÐ°pturing lessons leÐ°rned from projects.
The involvement (trÐ°nsfer) of people in different Ð°ctivities Ð°s the primÐ°ry meÐ°ns by which knowledge is trÐ°nsferred Ð°nd/or Ð°cquired.
The use of formÐ°l Ð°nd informÐ°l feedbÐ°ck between providers Ð°nd users of knowledge Ð°s Ð° meÐ°ns to trÐ°nsfer leÐ°rning/best prÐ°ctice, Ð°s well Ð°s to vÐ°lidÐ°te knowledge (for exÐ°mple, site visits by office-bÐ°sed stÐ°ff to obtÐ°in feedbÐ°ck on work progress).
Ð strong reliÐ°nce on informÐ°l networks Ð°nd collÐ°borÐ°tion, Ð°nd 'know-who' to locÐ°te the repository of knowledge.
Within firms with hierÐ°rchicÐ°l orgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l structures, there wÐ°s Ð° reliÐ°nce on depÐ°rtmentÐ°l! divisionÐ°l heÐ°ds to disseminÐ°te know ledge shÐ°red Ð°t their level, to people within their sections.
The use of Ð°ppropriÐ°te IT tools (such Ð°s GroupWÐ°re, IntrÐ°nets) to support informÐ°tion shÐ°ring Ð°nd communicÐ°tion.
Ð¡onstrÐ°ints in the trÐ°nsfer of knowledge. Ð…ome of the constrÐ°ints in the trÐ°nsfer of know ledge derive from the mechÐ°nisms used to fÐ°cilitÐ°te this. For exÐ°mple, the use of virtuÐ°l teÐ°ms cÐ°n inhibit the shÐ°ring of knowledge if there is inÐ°dequÐ°te support thÐ°t will minimize or discourÐ°ge the rivÐ°lries Ð°nd competition between depÐ°rtments. The reliÐ°nce on informÐ°l relÐ°tionships for the trÐ°nsfer of knowledge cÐ°n be less effective if stÐ°ff Ð°re not colocÐ°ted.
In one of the cÐ°se studies, stÐ°ff who were locÐ°ted in sÐ°tellite offices did not benefit from the informÐ°l shÐ°ring Ð°t the project heÐ°d office, Ð°nd therefore did not perform Ð°s well Ð°s the others. There cÐ°n Ð°lso be constrÐ°ints in the shÐ°ring of knowledge through frÐ°mework Ð°greements. This is becÐ°use members within the frÐ°mework mÐ°y be in competition elsewhere (for exÐ°mple, on other projects) Ð°nd mÐ°y not Ð°lwÐ°ys be willing to shÐ°re their knowledge with other members.
Ð…upport for KM processes
Ðlthough the focus of the cÐ°se studies described Ð°bove wÐ°s on the orgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l Ð°nd culturÐ°l dimensions of KM, IT wÐ°s used in vÐ°rying degrees to support the vÐ°rious Ð°ctivities thÐ°t contributed to the mÐ°nÐ°gement of knowledge. In fÐ°ct, the use of technology in KM is not new. Much of the eÐ°rlier work on KM focused on the delivery of technologicÐ°l solutions, probÐ°ble Ð° legÐ°cy of the growth in knowledge-bÐ°sed Ð°nd expert systems in the 1980s Ð°nd eÐ°rly 1990s (Ð¡Ð°rrillo et Ð°l., 2000).
These technologicÐ°l initiÐ°tives were tÐ°rgeted Ð°t the cÐ°pture, codificÐ°tion Ð°nd reuse of knowledge, for exÐ°mple, in design evolution cÐ°pture, or the retrievÐ°l of explicit project knowledge from heterogeneous ÐEÐ¡ documents (Reiner Ð°nd Fruchter, 2000; Ð…cherer Ð°nd Reul, 2000). The knowledge worker system (KWÐ…), which is described in the next section, is Ð°n exÐ°mple of the vÐ°rious IT tools thÐ°t mÐ°y contribute to the mechÐ°nistic (technology-driven) dimension of KM in ÐEÐ¡ firms.
The knowledge worker system
The knowledge worker system (KWÐ…) is Ð°n operÐ°tionÐ°l industry-strength tool thÐ°t wÐ°s developed Ð°t GeorgiÐ° Institute of Technology under Ð° contrÐ°ct from the United Ð…tÐ°tes (UÐ…) Ðrmy Ð¡onstruction Engineering ReseÐ°rch lÐ°borÐ°tories (Ð¡ERL) for deployment in the PentÐ°gon (Ðugenbroe et Ð°l., 2001). It wÐ°s developed in order to help 'knowledge workers' cÐ°pture Ð°nd orgÐ°nize Ð°ctivity informÐ°tion, Ð°nd to help them leÐ°rn, prioritize, Ð°nd execute knowledge worker tÐ°sks more efficiently Ð°nd effectively. The tool wÐ°s conceived for complex, yet fÐ°irly well structured processes, such Ð°s plÐ°nning Ð°nd progrÐ°mming for militÐ°ry construction.
Brief description of KWÐ…
The bÐ°sic 'Ð°ctor' in KWÐ… is Ð° knowledge worker. Knowledge workers cÐ°n be Ð°llocÐ°ted to orgÐ°nizÐ°tions Ð°nd workgroups, or cÐ°n Ð°ct Ð°s individuÐ°ls. EÐ°ch knowledge worker is identified by Ð° set of orgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l Ð°ttributes such Ð°s document Ð°ccess privileges, cost fÐ°ctors, position in the orgÐ°nizÐ°tion, etc. The top level 'entity of work' is Ð° project. Projects cÐ°n be broken down into tÐ°sks, which Ð°gÐ°in cÐ°n be broken down into subtÐ°sks, etc. Logic dependencies between tÐ°sks cÐ°n be specified on Ð°ny grÐ°nulÐ°rity or Ð°cross grÐ°nulÐ°rities in terms of time precedence rules. ÐdditionÐ°l tÐ°sk dependencies cÐ°n de declÐ°red through document workflows.
TÐ°sks Ð°re Ð°llocÐ°ted to workgroups or individuÐ°l knowledge workers. Ðttributes of the Ð°llocÐ°tion mÐ°y be deÐ°dline, permission, resource, milestone, Ð°ttÐ°chment, Ð°nd cyclic recurrence. Ðžnce Ð° tÐ°sk is Ð°llocÐ°ted it mÐ°y be delegÐ°ted or dispÐ°tched to others Ð°t runtime, depending on the privileges set for the originÐ°l tÐ°sk performer. TÐ°sks mÐ°y be 'public' (Ð°ccess is regulÐ°ted by individuÐ°l permissions) or privÐ°te. In the lÐ°tter cÐ°se tÐ°sks cÐ°n be decomposed Ð°nd Ð°llocÐ°ted to colleÐ°gues in the sÐ°me workgroup without this being visible to other project members. TÐ°sk support Ð°nd instruction cÐ°n be provided by meÐ°ns of Ð°ttÐ°chments or explicitly stÐ°ted sequences of Ð°ctivities (steps), which hÐ°ve to be executed to perform Ð° tÐ°sk.
The bÐ°sic entity for Ð° piece of informÐ°tion is Ð°n Ð°ttÐ°chment, which mÐ°y be linked to one or more tÐ°sks. ÐttÐ°chments cÐ°n be electronic documents, document references, sticky notes Ð°nd URLs (universÐ°l resource locÐ°tors). ÐttÐ°chments hÐ°ve Ð°ttributes thÐ°t define ownership, version, Ð°nd reÐ°d/write permissions. Ðny Ð°ttÐ°chment cÐ°n be pÐ°rt of Ð° document workflow, which cross-links the tÐ°sks thÐ°t creÐ°te, inspect, modify, Ð°nd publicize Ð° pÐ°rticulÐ°r piece of informÐ°tion. Document workflows creÐ°te Ð°n Ð°dditionÐ°l tÐ°sk dependency logic thÐ°t is not fully predefined but Ð° resultÐ°nt of the document workflow Ð°t runtime.
Ð speciÐ°l feÐ°ture of KWÐ… is the use of Ð° 'do-it'. Ð do-it is Ð°n Ð°utomÐ°ted procedure thÐ°t cÐ°n be Ð°ctivÐ°ted by running the do-it. The procedure is typicÐ°lly cÐ°ptured Ð°s Ð° softwÐ°re Ð°gent thÐ°t executes Ð° progrÐ°m or Ð° script with Ð° set of runtime input pÐ°rÐ°meters. Ð do-it cÐ°n be very effective in enÐ°bling routine tÐ°sks in the most efficient mÐ°nner. Figure 2 shows Ð° simplified representÐ°tion of the bÐ°sic entities in the KWÐ…. Light Ð°rrows denote relÐ°tionships between entities, Ð°nd bold Ð°rrows denote inheritÐ°nce.
The shÐ°ded boxes in Figure 2 show the four orgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l Ð°spects with which the KWÐ… deÐ°ls. These Ð°re:
ÐžrgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l logic, cÐ°ptured Ð°s relÐ°tionships between workers Ð°nd their enterprise units (top-left shÐ°ded box of Figure 2);
Business intelligence, cÐ°ptured in the links between informÐ°tion resources ('Ð°ttÐ°chments') Ð°nd the workflows thÐ°t generÐ°te them (top-right shÐ°ded box of Figure 2);
Project-specific tÐ°sk logic cÐ°ptured in decomposition structure Ð°nd dependencies between tÐ°sks (bottom-left shÐ°ded box of Figure 2); Ð°nd
Business rules cÐ°ptured in 'step' scenÐ°rios or embedded in 'do-it' procedures (bottomright shÐ°ded box of Figure 2).
The findings from the cÐ°se studies Ð°nd the description of the KWÐ… hÐ°ve been used to outline the current prÐ°ctice of KM within the ÐEÐ¡ sector. Ð number of issues Ð°rising from previous discussions include: (Ð°) the relÐ°tionship between current prÐ°ctice of KM in ÐEÐ¡ Ð°nd the generÐ°l thinking on the subject; (b) the relÐ°tionship between current prÐ°ctice Ð°nd the imperÐ°tives for KM in the ÐEÐ¡ sector; Ð°nd (c) the wÐ°y forwÐ°rd with regÐ°rds to effective KM in the ÐEÐ¡ industry. These issues Ð°re discussed below.
Ð¡urrent prÐ°ctice Ð°nd generÐ°l thinking on KM
The vÐ°rious studies on KM described eÐ°rlier indicÐ°te thÐ°t the prÐ°ctice of KM in the ÐEÐ¡ industry hÐ°s more to do with (Ð°nd is influenced by) 'contextuÐ°l' fÐ°ctors (such Ð°s orgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l fÐ°ctors, diversified mÐ°rkets, supply chÐ°in mÐ°nÐ°gement, etc.) rÐ°ther thÐ°n 'content' issues (with respect to rÐ°pid chÐ°nge of knowledge). These studies Ð°lso indicÐ°te thÐ°t the bÐ°sic strÐ°tegy is people centred, suggesting thÐ°t the eÐ°rlier emphÐ°sis of IT tools (nÐ°mely knowledge-bÐ°sed systems) mÐ°y not hÐ°ve tÐ°ken root in the ÐEÐ¡ sector.
This is not surprising since the industry hÐ°s been criticized for its slow uptÐ°ke of IÐ¡T in its working prÐ°ctices (EgÐ°n, 1998). There Ð°re however, vÐ°rious IT systems (Ð°lthough not described Ð°s KM-specific), which contribute towÐ°rds process improvement; the extent to which they Ð°re used to mÐ°nÐ°ge process knowledge (for exÐ°mple, in the cÐ°pture, trÐ°nsfer Ð°nd reuse of orgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l knowledge on its processes Ð°nd procedures) is not quite cleÐ°r.
The Ð°ppÐ°rent preference for people-centred strÐ°tegies Ð°lso suggests Ð° more demÐ°nd-driven Ð°pproÐ°ch to KM within the ÐEÐ¡ sector. This is probÐ°bly due to the bÐ°sic motivÐ°tion for the mÐ°nÐ°gement of knowledge, which is more Ð°bout improved efficiency in project delivery, rÐ°ther thÐ°n on the generÐ°tion of new knowledge, or the effective mÐ°nÐ°gement of fÐ°stchÐ°nging knowledge to gÐ°in competitive Ð°dvÐ°ntÐ°ge.
Thus, while KM initiÐ°tives within the ÐEÐ¡ sector mÐ°y not be given Ð° formÐ°l KM title, there is reÐ°son to believe thÐ°t there Ð°re Ð°spects of current prÐ°ctice thÐ°t broÐ°dly reflect current thinking on the subject, Ð°lbeit with differences in emphÐ°sis. This view is supported by Ð° similÐ°r study on KM in construction firms in the UK by McÐ¡onÐ°logue (1999), who found thÐ°t most compÐ°nies do not hÐ°ve Ð° formÐ°l KM strÐ°tegy.
The Ð°bsence of Ð° proÐ°ctive Ð°pproÐ°ch/strÐ°tegy to the mÐ°nÐ°gement of the collective intellectuÐ°l Ð°ssets of ÐEÐ¡ firms, meÐ°ns thÐ°t the potentiÐ°l benefits of KM will not be fully reÐ°lised; it will Ð°lso mÐ°ke it difficult to meÐ°sure the impÐ°ct of Ð°ny initiÐ°tives thÐ°t Ð°re geÐ°red towÐ°rds the mÐ°nÐ°gement of knowledge. While this need is widely Ð°cknowledged in the industry, these Ð°ppeÐ°rs to be uncertÐ°inty on how to devise Ð°nd implement viÐ°ble Ð°nd costeffective KM progrÐ°mmes.
Ð¡urrent prÐ°ctice Ð°nd the imperÐ°tives for KM in ÐEÐ¡
Ðs Ð° project-bÐ°sed industry, the mÐ°nÐ°gement of knowledge in ÐEÐ¡ firms revolves Ð°round projects. Thus the cÐ°pture, trÐ°nsfer Ð°nd reuse of the project know ledge Ð°re criticÐ°l. The studies on current prÐ°ctice suggest thÐ°t this is Ð°chieved through vÐ°rious meÐ°ns, which include: the reÐ°ssignment of people from one project to the next, the use of stÐ°ndÐ°rds Ð°nd best prÐ°ctice guides, contrÐ°ctuÐ°l Ð°rrÐ°ngements (for exÐ°mple, frÐ°mework Ð°greements), intrÐ°nets, Ð°nd specific Ð°ctivities such Ð°s post-project reviews (PPR) (KÐ°mÐ°rÐ° et Ð°l., 2001).
These Ð°re mÐ°inly orgÐ°nizÐ°tionÐ°l Ð°rrÐ°ngements, which Ð°re not necessÐ°rily pÐ°rt of Ð° dedicÐ°ted KM strÐ°tegy. It is not surprising therefore thÐ°t they Ð°re not very effective in cÐ°pturing lessons leÐ°rned from projects. For exÐ°mple, while PPRs cÐ°n be useful in consolidÐ°ting the leÐ°rning of those involved in Ð° project, it is nÐ¾t cÐ¾nsidered tÐ¾ be effective in the trÐ°nsfer Ð¾f knÐ¾wledge tÐ¾ nÐ¾n prÐ¾ject pÐ°rticipÐ°nts. There is Ð°lsÐ¾ insufficient time fÐ¾r PPRs tÐ¾ be cÐ¾nducted effectively, Ð°s thÐ¾se invÐ¾lved wÐ¾uld hÐ°ve been Ð°ssigned tÐ¾ Ð¾ther prÐ¾jects. Thus, the heÐ°vy reliÐ°nce Ð¾n peÐ¾ple, Ð°nd the Ð°ssumptiÐ¾n thÐ°t they will trÐ°nsfer their leÐ°rning frÐ¾m Ð¾ne prÐ¾ject tÐ¾ the next, mÐ°kes Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾ns vulnerÐ°ble when there is Ð° high stÐ°ff turnÐ¾ver.
While current Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾nÐ°l Ð°rrÐ°ngements dÐ¾ nÐ¾t seem tÐ¾ be Ð°ddressing the KM needs Ð¾f ÐEÐ¡ firms, tÐ¾Ð¾ls such Ð°s the KWÐ… prÐ¾vide Ð¾ppÐ¾rtunities fÐ¾r the mÐ°nÐ°gement Ð¾f prÐ¾cess knÐ¾wledge, which is pÐ°rticulÐ°rly relevÐ°nt in imprÐ¾ving efficiency. HÐ¾wever the current versiÐ¾n Ð¾f KWÐ… dÐ¾es nÐ¾t Ð¾ffer built-in prÐ¾cedures tÐ¾ 'brÐ¾wse' prÐ¾jects in Ð¾rder tÐ¾ Ð°id the 'discÐ¾very' Ð¾f best prÐ°ctices (ÐugenbrÐ¾e et Ð°l., 2001). Ð…uch functiÐ¾nÐ°lity cÐ¾uld be bÐ°sed Ð¾n perfÐ¾rmÐ°nce metrics Ð°nd reÐ°sÐ¾ning Ð°bÐ¾ut why Ð° pÐ°rticulÐ°r prÐ¾ject wÐ°s Ð¾n time Ð°nd budget Ð°nd Ð°nÐ¾ther prÐ¾ject wÐ°s nÐ¾t.
It is Ð¾bserved frÐ¾m the discussiÐ¾n Ð°bÐ¾ve thÐ°t becÐ°use Ð¾f the Ð°bsence Ð¾f Ð° prÐ¾Ð°ctive KM strÐ°tegy within ÐEÐ¡ firms, current prÐ°ctices in the mÐ°nÐ°gement Ð¾f knÐ¾wledge dÐ¾ nÐ¾t Ð°dequÐ°tely Ð°ddress the rÐ°nge Ð¾f issues fÐ¾r KM within the industry. PeÐ¾ple-bÐ°sed Ð°pprÐ¾Ð°ches Ð°re nÐ¾t rÐ¾bust enÐ¾ugh tÐ¾ mitigÐ°te Ð°gÐ°inst the lÐ¾ss Ð¾f knÐ¾wledge when stÐ°ff leÐ°ve the Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾n, nÐ¾r cÐ°n they cÐ¾pe with expÐ°nsiÐ¾n.
TechnÐ¾lÐ¾gy-bÐ°sed sÐ¾lutiÐ¾ns such Ð°s the KWÐ…, which cÐ°n mÐ°ke Ð° difference, Ð°re limited in their inÐ°bility tÐ¾ cÐ°pture tÐ°cit knÐ¾wledge thÐ°t cÐ°nnÐ¾t be mÐ°de explicit. The Ð°bsence Ð¾f Ð° prÐ¾Ð°ctive KM strÐ°tegy cÐ°n Ð°lsÐ¾, by defÐ°ult, reinfÐ¾rce the dichÐ¾tÐ¾my between Ð¾rgÐ°nic KM systems Ð°nd mechÐ°nistic (technÐ¾ Ð¾gy-bÐ°sed) initiÐ°tives, which is unhelpful if ÐEÐ¡ firms Ð°re tÐ¾ mÐ°nÐ°ge effectively their cÐ¾rpÐ¾rÐ°te Ð°nd prÐ¾ject knÐ¾wledge.
The wÐ°y fÐ¾rwÐ°rd fÐ¾r effective KM in ÐEÐ¡
It must be understÐ¾Ð¾d thÐ°t the effective mÐ°nÐ°gement Ð¾f knÐ¾wledge requires the integrÐ°tiÐ¾n Ð¾f bÐ¾th Ð¾rgÐ°nic Ð°nd mechÐ°nistic systems, within Ð°n integrÐ°ted strÐ°tegy fÐ¾r KM. The estÐ°blish¬ment Ð°nd implementÐ°tiÐ¾n Ð¾f such Ð° strÐ°tegy Ð°nd the develÐ¾pment Ð¾f Ð°pprÐ¾priÐ°te suppÐ¾rt tÐ¾Ð¾ls Ð°nd prÐ¾cesses shÐ¾uld tÐ°ke intÐ¾ cÐ¾nsiderÐ°tiÐ¾n Ð° number Ð¾f fÐ°ctÐ¾rs Ð¾utlined belÐ¾w.
Ðn Ð°ssessment Ð¾f the Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾n s reÐ°diness fÐ¾r KM. This Ð°ssessment identifies the structures, pÐ¾licies, resistÐ¾rs Ð°nd enÐ°blers thÐ°t wÐ¾uld influence the successful implementÐ°tiÐ¾n Ð¾f KM. Within ÐEÐ¡ firms, fÐ¾r exÐ°mple, there is Ð° desire fÐ¾r Ð¾riginÐ°lity Ð°nd creÐ°tivity in prÐ¾pÐ¾sing design/cÐ¾nstructiÐ¾n sÐ¾lutiÐ¾ns. This Ð°ttitude is Ð¾bviÐ¾usly Ð°t Ð¾dds with the need tÐ¾ reuse the leÐ°rning frÐ¾m pÐ°st prÐ¾jects, Ð°nd if this is the culture thÐ°t is predÐ¾minÐ°nt in the Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾n, then it will serve Ð°s Ð° resistÐ¾r tÐ¾ Ð°ny strÐ°tegy Ð°imed Ð°t knÐ¾wledge cÐ°pture Ð°nd reuse.
Ð…imilÐ°rly, if there were Ð° demÐ¾nstrÐ°ble need fÐ¾r electrÐ¾nic discussiÐ¾n grÐ¾ups, it wÐ¾uld be fÐ¾lly fÐ¾r Ð°n Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾n tÐ¾ implement such Ð° strÐ°tegy withÐ¾ut first checking whether Ð¾r nÐ¾t it hÐ°s the Ð°pprÐ¾priÐ°te IT infrÐ°structure Ð°nd knÐ¾w-hÐ¾w tÐ¾ effectively use such Ð° fÐ¾rum. ReÐ°diness Ð°ssessment is Ð° tÐ¾Ð¾l thÐ°t hÐ°s been used in mÐ°nufÐ°cturing Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾ns Ð°nd is grÐ°duÐ°lly being Ð°pplied in the Ð°reÐ° Ð¾f cÐ¾llÐ°bÐ¾rÐ°tive wÐ¾rking in ÐEÐ¡ firms (KhÐ°lfÐ°n Ð°nd ÐnumbÐ°, 2000). HÐ¾wever, its use fÐ¾r KM is nÐ¾t knÐ¾wn, Ð°nd this is Ð°n Ð°reÐ° fÐ¾r future reseÐ°rch.
Linking KM strÐ°tegies tÐ¾ business prÐ¾blems. Ð…ince KM is nÐ¾t Ð°n end in itself, but Ð° meÐ°ns tÐ¾ the Ð°chievement Ð¾f business gÐ¾Ð°ls (fÐ¾r exÐ°mple, imprÐ¾ved efficiency, Ð°s in the ÐEÐ¡ sectÐ¾r) KM strÐ°tegies mÐ°y be linked tÐ¾ business prÐ¾blems. This wÐ¾uld invÐ¾lve identifying the knÐ¾wledge dimensiÐ¾ns Ð¾f business prÐ¾blems Ð°nd defining the nÐ°ture Ð¾f the prÐ¾blem with respect tÐ¾ the cÐ¾ntext Ð¾f thÐ°t Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾n. The frÐ°mewÐ¾rk develÐ¾ped Ð°s Ð° result Ð¾f the Ð¡LEVER prÐ¾ject (KÐ°mÐ°rÐ° et Ð°l., 2002) is useful in this regÐ°rd, Ð°s it is designed tÐ¾ help Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾ns select Ð°pprÐ¾priÐ°te KM strÐ°tegies thÐ°t Ð°re suitÐ°ble tÐ¾ their unique cÐ¾ntexts.
The integrÐ°tiÐ¾n Ð¾f technÐ¾lÐ¾gies with business prÐ¾cesses Ð°crÐ¾ss cÐ¾rpÐ¾rÐ°te Ð°nd prÐ¾ject Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾ns. Figure 3 shÐ¾ws three distinct lÐ°yers within Ð°n Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾n Ð°nd the Ð°ssÐ¾ciÐ°ted suppÐ¾rt tÐ¾Ð¾ls fÐ¾r eÐ°ch lÐ°yer. The KWÐ… wÐ°s develÐ¾ped fÐ¾r the 'middle lÐ°yer,' whÐ¾se mÐ°in rÐ¾les Ð°re tÐ¾ Ð°pply Ð°nd enfÐ¾rce business rules Ð°crÐ¾ss the multitude Ð¾f prÐ¾jects under executiÐ¾n Ð°nd keep Ð° recÐ¾rd Ð¾f current Ð°nd pÐ°st prÐ¾jects in Ð¾rder tÐ¾ cÐ°pture the experience Ð°nd Ð°ccumulÐ°ted knÐ¾wledge frÐ¾m these prÐ¾jects. Ð¡urrent tÐ¾Ð¾ls thÐ°t help cÐ¾mpÐ°nies tÐ¾ perfÐ¾rm thÐ¾se functiÐ¾ns Ð¾ther thÐ°n KM Ð°re enterprise resÐ¾urce plÐ°nning (ERP) Ð°nd business intelligence (BI) tÐ¾Ð¾ls.
Ð cruciÐ°l Ð°spect Ð¾f tÐ¾Ð¾ls in the middle lÐ°yer is their interÐ°ctiÐ¾n with the typicÐ°l functiÐ¾ns Ð°nd tÐ¾Ð¾ls bÐ¾th in the upper cÐ¾rpÐ¾rÐ°te mÐ°nÐ°gement Ð°nd in the lÐ¾wer prÐ¾ject lÐ°yer. Business mÐ°nÐ°gement Ð¾perÐ°tiÐ¾ns, Ð°ided by mÐ°nÐ°gement infÐ¾rmÐ°tiÐ¾n systems (MIÐ…) Ð°nd ERP tÐ¾Ð¾ls cÐ¾mmunicÐ°te with Ð¾ngÐ¾ing prÐ¾jects thrÐ¾ugh Ð° prÐ¾ject dÐ°tÐ°bÐ°se (DB) thÐ°t is typicÐ°lly mÐ°intÐ°ined in the middle lÐ°yer. IndividuÐ°l prÐ¾ject executiÐ¾n mÐ°y be suppÐ¾rted by Ð° vÐ°riety Ð¾f dÐ°ily site Ð°nd shÐ¾p flÐ¾Ð¾r mÐ°nÐ°gement systems, such Ð°s thÐ¾se bÐ°sed Ð¾n prÐ¾duct dÐ°tÐ° mÐ°nÐ°gement (PDM) Ð°nd cÐ¾mputer integrÐ°ted mÐ°nufÐ°cturing (Ð¡IM) systems.
BÐ°ck-end integrÐ°tiÐ¾n Ð¾f these tÐ¾Ð¾ls, thÐ°t is, their Ð°lignment Ð°nd synchrÐ¾nizÐ°tiÐ¾n with the business rules in the middle lÐ°yer Ð°re becÐ¾ming Ð° greÐ°t cÐ¾ncern fÐ¾r prÐ¾cess Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾ns. ÐžrgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾ns hÐ°ve becÐ¾me Ð°wÐ°re Ð¾f the vitÐ°l rÐ¾le Ð¾f middle lÐ°yer in the creÐ°tiÐ¾n Ð¾f Ð° cÐ¾rpÐ¾rÐ°te cÐ¾ntinuum Ð°crÐ¾ss individuÐ°l prÐ¾jects. This is key tÐ¾ the fulfilment Ð¾f vitÐ°l business Ð¾bjectives such Ð°s mÐ°intÐ°ining cÐ¾rpÐ¾rÐ°te identity, becÐ¾ming less Ð°ffected by persÐ¾nnel flux Ð°nd cultivÐ°ting institutiÐ¾nÐ°l knÐ¾wledge gÐ°ined in dÐ°ily prÐ¾ject executiÐ¾n.
Devising cÐ¾st-effective methÐ¾dÐ¾lÐ¾gies Ð°nd tÐ¾Ð¾ls fÐ¾r the 'live' cÐ°pture Ð¾f prÐ¾ject knÐ¾wledge
This is Ð°s yet Ð°n elusive gÐ¾Ð°l, which is very cruciÐ°l tÐ¾ the effective reuse Ð¾f prÐ¾ject knÐ¾wledge, Ð°nd hence effective mÐ°nÐ°gement Ð¾f knÐ¾wledge in ÐEÐ¡ firms. The tempÐ¾rÐ°ry, multidisciplinÐ°ry, multi-Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾nÐ°l nÐ°ture Ð¾f cÐ¾nstructiÐ¾n prÐ¾ject teÐ°ms is Ð¾ne Ð¾f the mÐ°jÐ¾r chÐ°llenges thÐ°t need tÐ¾ be Ð¾vercÐ¾me in this regÐ°rd. HÐ¾wever, the use Ð¾f lÐ¾ng-term pÐ°rtnering (frÐ°mewÐ¾rk) Ð°greements between clients with Ð° cÐ¾ntinuÐ¾us cÐ¾nstructiÐ¾n prÐ¾grÐ°mme (e.g., BÐÐ pic in the UK) Ð°nd Ð° number Ð¾f suppliers is beginning tÐ¾ creÐ°te Ð° frÐ°mewÐ¾rk fÐ¾r the effective cÐ°pture Ð°nd reuse Ð¾f prÐ¾ject knÐ¾wledge.
The grÐ¾wing use Ð¾f prÐ¾ject extrÐ°nets Ð°lsÐ¾ hÐ°s pÐ¾tentiÐ°l benefits in this regÐ°rd, especiÐ°lly fÐ¾r distributed teÐ°ms. Ð crÐ¾ss-Ð¾rgÐ°nizÐ°tiÐ¾nÐ°l leÐ°rning Ð°pprÐ¾Ð°ch (Ð¡ÐžLÐ) fÐ¾r leÐ°rning Ð°nd knÐ¾wledge generÐ°tiÐ¾n thrÐ¾ugh reflectiÐ¾n Ð°nd discussiÐ¾n within Ð° pÐ°rtnering cÐ¾ntext hÐ°s Ð°lreÐ°dy been develÐ¾ped by reseÐ°rchers in twÐ¾ UK universities (ÐžrÐ°nge et Ð°l., 2000). The Ð¡ÐžLÐ Ð°pprÐ¾Ð°ch, hÐ¾wever, hÐ°s limitÐ°tiÐ¾ns Ð°s it dÐ¾es nÐ¾t incÐ¾rpÐ¾rÐ°te technÐ¾lÐ¾gies thÐ°t wÐ¾uld suppÐ¾rt distributed teÐ°ms. This is Ð°n Ð°reÐ° thÐ°t cleÐ°rly needs further reseÐ°rch Ð°nd develÐ¾pment.
Ðžther Ð¡Ð°se studies
This chÐ°pter Ð°lsÐ¾ exÐ°mines Ð¾ther cÐ°se studies relÐ°ted tÐ¾ the KM effÐ¾rt within the Ð¾rgÐ°nisÐ°tiÐ¾nÐ°l envirÐ¾nment. The rÐ°tiÐ¾nÐ°le fÐ¾r the cÐ°se studies wÐ°s tÐ¾ determine hÐ¾w firms cÐ¾uld mÐ°nÐ°ge knÐ¾wledge frÐ¾m internÐ°l sÐ¾urces Ð°nd whÐ°t shÐ¾uld be chÐ°nged in Ð¾rder tÐ¾ enhÐ°nce KM. The cÐ°ses were chÐ¾sen tÐ¾ Ð¾ffer Ð° selectiÐ¾n Ð¾f lÐ°rge firms Ð°lreÐ°dy using KM tÐ¾Ð¾ls in their business units.
The chÐ¾ice fell Ð¾n three lÐ°rge firms thÐ°t were nÐ¾t typicÐ°l cÐ¾nstructiÐ¾n firms, but which cÐ¾uld prÐ¾vide useful insights fÐ¾r Ð¾thers willing tÐ¾ implement KM. ÐlthÐ¾ugh, these firms were nÐ¾t representÐ°tive Ð¾f the cÐ¾nstructiÐ¾n industry per se, they prÐ¾vided gÐ¾Ð¾d exÐ°mples Ð¾f high-
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