Importance of Knowledge Management in Organisations
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This chapter provides a brief introduction about the research topic along with the research aims and objectives in detail. Further in this chapter, the scope of research, personal interest and the motivation to choose this particular research topic are all discussed briefly. Finally, the dissertation structure content of the six chapters is highlighted.
1.1 Introduction to the Topic
The use of Internet and Intranet technologies within an organisation has changed drastically over the past ten years. Modern organisations are striving hard to maintain an appropriate strategy towards knowledge management in order to provide the employees of the organisation with the data related to their work. The main use of using a company's knowledge-base by employees is to help them develop their skills in all aspects and at the same time helps an individual to learn from any mistakes highlighted during projects undertaken. All past experiences and solutions provided at that time are recorded so experts can analyze these mistakes and make sure that they are not repeated in any of their future product developments or assignments.
This research will evaluate whether knowledge management is an effective way to enhance an organisations profit and at the same time achieve employee training and development. Furthermore this research will evaluate whether Intranet and Internet services within an organisation play an important role in knowledge management process.
1.2 Personal Interest and Motivation
During the learning process at the university, the author was exposed to different modules of Information Technology (IT), such as, Project Management, IT Management, Knowledge Management and Professional Issues that prevail in the present IT industry. Among these modules the author developed a kind of affection with the subject of Knowledge Management and wished to know more about it. Therefore the author has chosen to taken up this opportunity to explore this research topic and gain further understanding of knowledge management in more detail. This has not been an easy task, but with good guidance and advice from my mentors, tutors and my loved ones it has helped to finalize this topic choice and commence the research work.
1.3 Main Topics Discussed
In this section, the main topics and sub topics discussed in the literature review are listed: Introduction to Intranet and Internet Services, Information Technology (IT), Impact of the Intranet on Organisations, Knowledge Management Studies, Knowledge Management, Types of Knowledge Management, Benefits of Knowledge Management Implementation in Organisations, Knowledge Circulation Process (KCP) for Organisational Performance and Management of Knowledge. All the above main topic and sub topics are related to one another which gives a complete understanding about the topic and its necessity within today's organisations. With this understanding a survey questionnaire is formulated which is analyzed at later stages of the research work/discussion.
1.4 Scoping of the Research
The main purpose of this study is to evaluate whether knowledge management systems are necessary in today's organisation and also the study is to point out the important features of knowledge management when implemented within organisations. This research topic has been a major attraction for many researchers; a lot of studies have been carried out on this topic. At present, the author's research identifies a few opinions about the topic and its importance within the scope of an organisation.
1.5 Aims and Objectives
The main aim of this research study is to evaluate whether knowledge management is important in today's organisations and also to discover whether knowledge management helps in employee development and learning processes. Furthermore, the research also provides a chance to evaluate the role of the Internet and Intranet technologies in implementing knowledge management. Below is a list of objectives:
- To understand the research topic in depth
- Provide a clear understanding of the role of Internet and Intranet technologies
- Seek information in relation to Knowledge Management
1.6 Structure of the Dissertation
The dissertation structure is divided into six chapters and the contents of each chapter are briefly discussed below:
In this chapter, a brief introduction concerning the topic is discussed. Furthermore, the aims and objectives of the research topic are detailed, personal interest/ motivation, scope of the research, main topics and sub topics related to the research topic are discussed. Finally, the chapter concludes with a dissertation outline, this provides the reader with a structure of the research work that will be carried out.
This chapter mainly focuses on the literature review based on the research topic. The discussion focuses on the analysis of a variety of researcher's views and different author's opinions about the chosen topic area. Additionally, literature on knowledge management systems, types of knowledge management, and benefits of knowledge management when implemented within an organisation, knowledge circulation process, Internet and Intranet services within organisations are all briefly discussed.
In these chapter different research paradigms, research strategies and data collection methods are discussed briefly, out of which only appropriate research paradigm, research methodology, research strategy are chosen based on the topic. Further in this chapter, assumptions and ethical issues are also discussed.
In this chapter, the data collected from participants are gathered together, the data is stored in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and the data is then analyzed by relating it to the research aims and objectives in order to meet them.
This chapter includes a brief discussion of the analysed results of the obtained data from participants. The data is represented in the form of graphs and each graph is followed by a discussion.
This is the conclusive chapter. In this chapter, the obtained results are compared to that of research aims and final conclusions are drawn from the analysis. The discussion focuses on relating to and linking the survey data to the aims and drawing conclusions. Finally, the chapter suggests future recommendations.
This chapter has provided a brief outline of the dissertation structure where the researcher as well as the reader can gain a quick understanding about the work that has been planned. Additionally this chapter has introduced the topic chosen, highlighted the aims and objectives and briefly discussed the main topics within the study that will hopefully provide a clear understanding for both the author and the reader. Furthermore, this chapter also discusses the author's personal interest/motivation behind choosing this particular topic area and the scope of the research. In the next chapter, literature on the research topic is analysed and discussed this: includes opinions of different researchers and authors.
The use of intra-organisational information by employees is widely recognized as an essential part of knowledge sharing within organisations. This way of sharing knowledge helps an organisation to tackle supporting operational and strategic corporate decision makers within the organisation. Intranet technology has proven to be one of the effective ways of accessing and disseminating data or knowledge available within the organisation (Lai and Mahapatra, 1998).
The main problem that an organisation faces is the decision-making capability. Managers who are responsible for decision making within a project lifecycle are unable to make appropriate decisions due to the required data not being available. Due to large amounts of data that are available within the organisation, organisations are striving hard to find appropriate tools and techniques to manage their knowledge. Although, techniques such as data warehousing and digital libraries are implemented within the organisation, but these services are limited to a certain range. In order to manage these kinds of situations within an organisation, better solutions are evaluated and the term Intranet evolved (Tan, et. al., 2003).
Expertise has identified services offered by the Intranet, some of these services that can be utilized are: alternative approach of managing dispersed enterprise data and decision support services. Intranet usage integrates individual, group, departmental, corporate communication and information sharing tasks together and provides a solution or option for each and every individual who uses it. Organisations have developed in terms of managing data available within their departments, sharing of knowledge within their departments, communication within company employees and sharing of knowledge are available for decision making was found to be improved (Lai and Mahapatra, 1998).
Intranets can develop the collaboration among employees who are working for an organisation by creating networks of share spaces which are developed based on common understanding. Employees of an organisation can use this service as a medium to share available knowledge and expertise amongst each other. They have the opportunity to interact with their team and share their advice on work carried out. Though the main use of the Intranet in an organisation was meant to be for data sharing, but the extra features with the use of Intranet in organisations made it popular and these services are widely used in organisation irrespective of their market area (Khasnabish and Saracco, 1997).
Strategic engagements that are held by an organisation have seen a new topic that has emerged in the knowledge based view of an organisation. This provides us with a theoretical basis on how a knowledge based resource plays a vital role in increasing the sustainable competitiveness of the firm. It also provides us with a clearer picture of how changes could be brought about to ensure no hassle in the process of knowledge management (Hoegl and Schulze, 2005). If an organisation constantly checks on its resources and promotes knowledge based perspective that postulates a competitive advantage and also builds on the privately developed resources, then tacit and explicit knowledge in an organisation will exist. At the same time, the knowledge based view or perception of an organisation assumes that the present knowledge assets exist at any time provided a valid opportunity for sustainable competitive advantage (Kebede, 2010).
The use of previously existing assets along with the creation, accumulation and sharing the new assets amongst the other individuals would happen in an easier way by employing Information Technology and an Information System (IS) in that particular organisation, this is considered here. In an organisational view, it can be explained in a convincing manner the reason why a certain number of organisations or firms are more competitive under the prevailing market conditions (Kebede, 2010). Knowledge assets pertaining to a particular organisation are all dependent upon the quality of organisational knowledge and also the intangible assets of the organisation in general. This generally depends on the methods that are used to store the knowledge within the organisational limits and the extent of its usage within its employees.
There is a serious need for metrics and statistics to justify all knowledge management initiatives that are taken up on priority within an organisation. Taking the knowledge management process a step forward would help senior management to justify and also help them improve their ability to manage the knowledge assets in a better manner. The benefits that are extracted from the knowledge management are all intangible and there is one method of measurement called the Balanced Scorecard. This would take both the perspectives like Financial and also the others (e.g. customers or internal business processes, innovation and learning etc.) (Liebowitz and Megbolugbe, 2003).
However it is not a justifiable fact to relate knowledge management initiatives to performance. One cannot relate knowledge management with performance in every situation within organisational life, There is a need to have a superior metrics system to assess knowledge management performance, with also the ability to clear it; and also at the same time it also suggests futuristic and strategic actions for an organisation to take up. This not just keeps the work organised, but also improves the performance for the knowledge management process.
2.1 KM Studies
The discussion that is taken up in previous sections of this dissertation briefly highlights that knowledge management is built on multiple disciplines such as management, computer science and information systems theory. It also has been reviewed in previous knowledge management literature at the start and the same are summarized in Table 1 below by Lee et. al., (2005).
Table 1: KM studies, (Lee et. al., 2005)
There are few prior Knowledge Management studies that relates with the Managerial and the Social issues. These issues have brought about the needed change and also brought about the necessary importance into place on specific processes and activities within knowledge management such as the knowledge acquisition, generation, storage, distribution, application and also its measurement (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995). On the same grounds, the research agenda and also the general perspective of knowledge management based on the literature review are all addressed with the priorities that were set for them without any deviations. There are few points that have taken the managerial perspective and have requested the reasons as to how a ‘learning organisation' could obtain sustainable competitive advantage.
Work needs to be conducted within the organisation to develop the same knowledge as there would not be any single individual in an organisation who has all the required knowledge. It is not predictable when an individual working with any certain organisation would choose to leave it, for the offer of a better poosition. Hence relying on a single individual for his knowledge could lead to very drastic effects. The way or the process within which the knowledge has been acquired and the way it is assembled and restructured particularly provides a definite competitive advantage for an organisation. As per the scholar Kebede (2010) states, the process of learning was the only sustainable competitive advantage and there has been a single learning situation that is resulted in organisational knowledge (or memory).
Corporate memory has a remarkable effect on the present decisions that are taken and also plays a vital role in the success of an organisation's operations and the responses to the changes and challenges. There are numerous attempts that are made and numerous methodologies that were put in place to improve and revive the present learning's and learning capabilities of the individual employees in an organisation, this helps an organisation become a ‘learning system' (Kingston and Macintosh, 2000). In the process of improving an organisation's learning capabilities, there were problems that were identified at various stages of the process by a considerable number of scholars. These identified reasons and issues were then studied to give a better environment to resolve the same. There are also studies that mentioned the relationship of role of Information Technology in Knowledge Management (Lee and Kim, 2001) & (Kingston and Macintosh, 2000).
There is a general consideration that a Knowledge Management System (KMS) is a specialized Information System for knowledge management using the latest available technologies (e.g. the Internet, Intranet, data warehouses, software agents) to synchronize, facilitate and also to expedite organisation wide knowledge management. Knowledge Management System research primarily consists of general and also conceptual principles, case studies, scenarios and thesis of such systems of a few organisations. A study by Lee and Kim (2001) states that how a KMS can enhance the effectiveness of the teams that sit and analyse the complex, non-recurring problems by improving all the trouble some areas and also improving the way these teams compositions evolve. Knowledge mining would be the synonymous phrase that could be used as like Data mining. Using this we would be able to see our self in a situation where you can provide the right information to the right persons at the right time (Kingston and Macintosh, 2000).
The strategic use of the Internet for all such knowledge management activities is well dealt with in lot of activities. There has been a point that was mentioned regarding the usage of the Internet and Intranet in developing the distributed Knowledge Management systems by (Goodman, 2006). XML (Extensible Markup Language) was developed to transport and store data, this is considered as an ideal tool for knowledge retrieval and for use in knowledge management.
2.2 Impact of the Intranet on Organisations
Intranet services are growing rapidly within every possible sector of business due to its wide range of benefits. Some of the impacts where Intranet has changed the business strategy are listed below:
- It is less expensive to implement as it runs inside the organisation's network.
- Excellent performance enhancement can be achieved because of limited user access
- Employee performance is increased due to availability of necessary resources and advices due to better communication with their expertise.
- Effective communication amongst the employees
- Efficient knowledge sharing process within different departments of an organisation
- Helps to maintain effective customer relationship
- Immediate access of data regarding organisational data and documents is possible with the help of Intranet service (Bernard, 1996).
WEB is known as World Wide Web. It is a hypertext document which can be accessed over the Internet. With the use of these links an individual can actually access almost everything, right from an mp3 (MPEG- Moving Pictures Experts Group) file to video files. Different types of documents and books can be read or downloaded using this process. With the help of this facility an individual can perform some of his daily tasks in a different and a convenient way.
The use of the Internet and web technology has changed the entire scenario of database management within an organisation on any given day. Due to the popularity of the web, a newer version of World Wide Web is launched and named it as the second version of it. With the help of web 2.0 one can experience a user friendly approach while accessing the Internet. The quality of web pages that are available is different and more exciting when compared to earlier version of web (W3c, 2010).
2.4 Knowledge Management
Knowledge management in general tries to organise and make available important information like the know-how, wherever and whenever it is actually needed. This includes processes, procedures, patents, reference works, formulas,
best practices, forecasts, fixes and the like (Maglitta, 1996). This process is not only used for managing organisation's knowledge base but also looks for the proper management of the same. Utilization of this knowledge within the organisation at right time and at the right place is also ensured as a part of its activities. Success of an organisation depends less on developed products and more on the appropriate utilization of available information, appropriate sharing of information when needed. Thus knowledge management plays a vital and a key role for all these years and it will be change the future of managing the knowledge within an organisation as well (Kebede, 2010).
2.4.1 Types of Knowledge
Mainly there are of two types of knowledge that is available for the individuals of an organisation and they are:
This knowledge can be expressed in terms of specific language and is normally expressed in terms of data or formulae. The information obtained can be stored within the Organisational premises easily and reused whenever there is any need for it.
This type of knowledge is completely opposite to explicit knowledge. Knowledge is more personal and cannot be stored. It ‘indwells' in a comprehensive cognizance of the human mind and body (Kebede, 2010). In simpler words, this type of knowledge is held within an individual and is not available for any other individuals of the organisation. This kind of knowledge in an individual builds a dependency on him and then the works would actually finish in a slower and un-organised manner.
2.4.2 Benefits of KM Implementation in Organisations
One can expect an interactive environment around the organisation where people strive for knowledge and also to show their skills, some benefits of KM implementation are listed below:
- Provide new ways to collaborate.
- Boosts up productivity.
- Leads to innovation within the organisation.
- Overall profitability.
- Motivation and encouragement within employees.
- Reusability of resources (Dalkir, 2005).
2.4.3 What are Knowledge Based Systems?
Human-centred would be an apt definition for a Knowledge Based System. Knowledge Based Systems derive their roots from the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and there are evident attempts from scholars to understand and also to imitate human knowledge in Computer systems. In whatever way we see, a Knowledge Based System falls short of the human intellect and the human touch. The system lacks creative powers like reproducing the same knowledge and also the learning capabilities are relatively primitive (Dreyfus, 1986). Compared to a human as such, there is no comparison with the Knowledge Based System. There is a wonderfully acknowledged fact that the intelligence of a Artificially Intelligent System is quite different from human intelligence.
There are a second set of definitions that are defined and which only looks for the characteristics in the architecture of a Knowledge Based System. In such a way of defining a Knowledge Based System, it mainly categorizes four components namely:
- Knowledge base
- Inference Engine
- Knowledge engineering tool
- A specific user interface and is often natural language based (Ramirez and Antonio, 2007)
The core of a Knowledge Based System is defined by the first two components namely the Knowledge Base and the Inference Engine wherein the former one is an active collection of ‘formal knowledge' or an active database with lots of ‘formal knowledge', its primary purpose being how that data may be used in Practical life. The latter part, inference engine on the other hand defines the ways in which the knowledge base can be put to use to help resolve the situations at hand for an organisation (Ramirez and Antonio, 2007). The remaining two factors are just the added supplements for the Knowledge base and the Inference engine as these offer instruments for filling the Knowledge base with knowledge and act as a dedicated user interface for the user to understand and view the knowledge.
Characteristically a Knowledge Based System user interface has to provide the basic know how and should also question itself letting the system explain its behaviour when the system deals with any particular problem. Definitions of a Knowledge Based System that are defined on the basis of architectural peculiarities are not at all satisfactory as compared to the definitions that are defined on the basis of human intelligence, there is an obvious resistance in the way they actually work with such definitions also (Akerkar and Sajja, 2009). The difference in the definitions could be seen when we consider a system based on neural nets and there are no separating aspects of a knowledge base, inference engine. There would hardly be any difference between the knowledge base and an inference engine in such cases where neural nets are considered for a system. Such definitions take the wrong meaning historical form chosen in several Knowledge Based Systems for the hallmarks of such systems.
There is also a third set of definition that is given to a Knowledge Based System to indicate all the organisational IT applications that prove helpful and needful for managing the knowledge assets within an organisation. Few examples for such kinds of Knowledge Based Systems could be expert systems, groupware, data warehouses or even the Intranet. The mentioned applications in an organisation provide the individuals all the information that is needed to them to help them in all their day-to-day activities. These definitions are flatly rejected as these lead to the erosion of the meaning of the term Knowledge-based system. Knowledge Based System in our view is not just any IT system that is used to deal with the Knowledge that is present with an organisation (Leondes, 2000).
The definition of a Knowledge Based System that provides the most satisfactory organisation-centred viewpoint comes when we focus on the “Knowledge Modelling”. Key activity in building a Knowledge Based System in that case is to find a formal model that allows the description of knowledge at a conceptual level or at the knowledge level itself, aiming at uncovering the basic schema linking the central concepts of a given domain in a particular organisation (Akerkar and Lingras, 2008).
The best suited examples of formalisms for the knowledge representation are the production rules, predicate logic, frames, neural nets and objects. The definition of a Knowledge Based System as an outcome of the knowledge modelling process is very useful and it actually does not direct any discussions pertaining to the organisational values of it to the characteristics of the technology as such. The actual goals of knowledge modelling process could be achieved only by examining the elements of knowledge validly and then has to be described in any of the formalisms for knowledge representation (Ramirez and Antonio, 2007).
Given the focus on the process of knowledge modelling not only aids in gaining the best insight into the characteristics of the knowledge, but also guides the discussions concerning the pros and cons of the use of knowledge. It then leads to the identification why or in which aspect of formalisation is not possible or not advisable (for example, it reduces the flexibility or does not do justice to any specific intricacies). The knowledge modelling process thus acts as a vehicle to show and focus thought about the organisational knowledge and also its functionality. The basic aim is to explore that part of the organisational knowledge and how to capture in the formal schemata, and to describe the benefits and the pitfalls that are implied.
There are associated benefits of having a Knowledge Based System in place in an organisation. These act as a way to retain the knowledge even after an individual who has created/compiled it has opted out of the organisation or in their absence. These systems could be used for the new comers in their on-job training purposes to fetch whatever the details that are needed of them. There is a consistent way to improve the decision making process and also helps in increasing the availability of the needed expertise. They provide the building blocks or the 'Corporate Memory' and also promotes of knowledge sharing etc. If the knowledge is well documented under KBS, the sole repository for all such information and knowledge then there wouldn't be any potential rivalry between these two. If there is any discrepancy then the risks that have to be incurred is not imaginary also (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995). Then those would not be considered the failure of a KBS installation but would unnecessary and undesirable side effects of a successful KBS implementation. Stating to the earlier point, these mainly derive from the fact that KBS totally depends on the determining and storing of the knowledge at a given point of time.
It would be very tough and would be next to impossible to assess all the critical empirical assessments of the harm that a KBS may cause to an organisation. Considering such a point, there would be a definite negative impact on Job satisfaction and also on the labour quality. Once a KBS is implemented in an organisation, there should be an established value that has to be assigned to the same. The friendliness and the rivalry that exists between the KBS and the knowledge that is with held in the hands of an organisation are like the two poles of a continuum. The whole responsibility of having the data be accessible over the Internet/Intranet for all the individuals of an organisation is solely taken up by the organisation. The main area that is concentrated here in this discussion would be the organisational value of KBS, its assessment, and the effective know how process. There should be a proper and a systematic way to respond to all the questions that could be raised on the three issues (Akerkar and Lingras, 2008).
Firstly there should be an assessment of the role and the value of the knowledge of the organisation; the measures of their activation. Only after this is done, there would be a proper understanding of the things that are to happen at a later stage in an organisation. Knowledge management is the whole process of considering and implementing measures that would be dealing with the organisational knowledge. There is always a need to have a suitable definition of this concept.
Secondly, the provided definition for a KBS has to be appropriate to the context of investigation of the organisational aspects of knowledge. The relationship between the knowledge management and Knowledge Based Systems has to be established and the same should stand on sound grounds. If there are any mismatches found in the definitions, it would affect drastically on both the knowledge and the method through which the knowledge management is achieved.
Thirdly, with a proper assessment of the value of a KBS, it needs a careful description of how a KBS relates to the other aspects of an organisation and the disposition of its knowledge. There is also a question that remains unanswered that is the earning that a KBS can obtain the tools that are used for knowledge management. To do all this, there is a particular framework that has to be presented.
2.5 Management of Knowledge
There is a certain need for every organisation to crave for more knowledge than what is acquired by an organisation as it has to survive the competition that exists in the market. Every individual that is linked with any process of an organisation, they have to perform their day-to-day activities and routines; it may even add value to the work that an individual does. The knowledge that is acquired or retained within the organisational limits could be put into use by all the individuals in their day-to-day work. The knowledge that is already retained by an organisation has to be used in all the present scenarios and at the same time there are to be ardent efforts to create new knowledge or information are the only two core areas of concern for any organisation that is considered for this research study (Frappaolo, 2006). The knowledge that is acquired and maintained within an organisation should be relevant to the work that an individual works on and the same differs or changes over the time without any doubts.
An organisation maintaining their “knowledge workers” would lean heavily on retaining its intellectual assets than any other smaller or average production firms. Based on the knowledge that a particular individual holds within himself for the organisation there would be a particular importance that would be assigned to that individual. Crucial information or knowledge has to be retained and the same has to be documented for the organisation's further use (Coakes, 2003). With the growing importance of the knowledge that is been handled within an organisation, there has to be implications for the management of such knowledge.
The following quotation stands correct in the current scenario and also points out to some of the crucial elements of Knowledge Management: Knowledge must be seen as a tied element to the personal or human element at its core and knowledge as our understandings are, it generally resides in an individual's brain. Representation of any such knowledge can be done mechanically, digitally, visually so on and so forth. Any information or knowledge that provides an organisation with sustainable competitive advantage has to be and must be independent from any given individual (Coakes, 2003). This clearly states that the information or knowledge that is sustained within an individual has always and should always reside with the organisation, as this knowledge can then be used to share amongst the other individuals to reap the same benefits if that particular individual is not present with the organisation anymore also. This point clearly points that the tacit knowledge that is withheld in an individual has to be converted back to explicit knowledge to gain the advantage on an large scale amongst the individuals of an organisation.
Considering the points mentioned earlier there are two important fields of concern as per the organisation's benefit level and they are the knowledge that is present at the level of an individual and the knowledge that is present at the level of the organisation itself. There has to be a synchronized way wherein the knowledge that is sustained within an individual has to be shared with the organisation and then to be shared with the others. Such a situation where the knowledge resides just with a single individual is called tacit knowledge and the same has to be converted to explicit knowledge to share the same amongst the other individuals linked up with the organisation.
This particular concept is actually discussed by Polanyi (1964). For our better understanding, explicit knowledge can be termed as the public knowledge as it touches all the aspects of the knowledge that can be articulated in any formal language and transmitted among individuals (Collins, 2010). Tacit knowledge if had to be understood, is the knowledge that is earned by an individual by his personal experiences, personal beliefs, perspectives and values. The actual problem that is faced within the arena of knowledge management is that tacit knowledge is largely with the individuals and at the same time the same knowledge cannot be used or utilized by the other individuals in any particular project. Tacit knowledge with an individual makes that knowledge indispensable for its productive usage (Busch, 2008). Although the above mentioned fields of tension throw light on the core problems of knowledge management, they do not show where the focus for this function is or can be. Knowledge management mainly raises two issues as per the figure displayed below:
Of the two aspects mentioned, the former one mainly concentrates on improving the use of the knowledge within the organisational aspects and boundaries as it totally states and makes sure that the right knowledge is used at the right place and that too at the right time to resolve the issues faced within the project domain in an organisation. It is said to be associated with the static nature of the knowledge assets. The next aspect is totally related to the creation of new knowledge that is held with an individual or with any particular team. This suggests that the value of the knowledge goes beyond its presence (that is already present within the organisation and the knowledge that is present with any single individual) at any given time. It deals & involves with the dynamic nature of the knowledge assets. Knowledge creation at any point of time within an organisation leads to the concept called “Learning Organisation”.
Tacit knowledge with an individual creates a dependency with that individual for any work that has to go on with that particular knowledge and the specific importance of it for knowledge creation and innovation is already noted. With the provided two aspects there is the need for proper thinking over the third one that could arise that totally concerns with the storage of Knowledge (Kikoski, 2004). It would be the responsibility of all the members who are related with this process to make sure that the knowledge that is created and the created knowledge to be maintained well without any issues. Every effort that is put in to achieve this mentioned objective is discussed under the sub-topic of organisational or corporate memory. Organisational memory is not just important in the application of current knowledge but also vital for the creation of new knowledge (Boh, 2007).
The driving factor that one can assure an organisational memory is by avoiding the risk of knowledge erosion. Knowledge erosion is the situation where there is no growth of knowledge or even worse situations like the loss of knowledge, for instance the loss of tacit knowledge when an individual resigns or retires from that particular organisation (Busch, 2008). In such situations, the tacit knowledge that is withheld with those individuals would be lost, and the team would be in a situation where they wouldn't be able to cope up with the work.
Figure 4 below shows the practical perspective of how the knowledge management is implemented in an organisation. It helps in translating the previously discussed three objectives or problems into goals and measures for the knowledge management process. There a variety of measures that could be found in the process of knowledge management. The mentioned processes can be grouped into three classes: organisational measures (Team-based work, fuzzy structures, virtual organisations, job rotation, multi-tasking), in the realm of HR Management (competence management, double career ladders, employability measures, training programs, financial participation programs, dedicated performance evaluation routines) and those relating with the information system (intelligent document imaging and retrieval systems, forms of groupware and Intranet) (Tang, et. al., 2006).
Exploration and implementation of a KBS is been suggested as an awesome flexible measure for knowledge management. This process can act as a safety measure and can also safeguard from the Knowledge erosion issues that could be faced. This forms an effective tool for maintaining the organisational knowledge base (is it up to date, or is it efficiently stored). It offers support in the problem solving situations also.
2.6 Knowledge Circulation Process (KCP) for Organisational Performance
The first step that would be in consideration under the Knowledge Circulation Process is knowledge creation. It deals with a variety of knowledge/information, let it be tacit/explicit and the same has been accelerated by some encouraging relations of individuals from a varying number of backgrounds.
The second step would be the process of accumulation of knowledge. Every individual should have access to the base where the relevant knowledge to help themselves in their day-to-day activities and also to help in taking the necessary decisions. The knowledge that is accumulated over the days in any particular organisation would play a very important/vital role in the elimination of any considerable obstacles and also the inefficiencies simultaneously. This in turn improves the Management performance by leaps and bounds (Brooking, 1996). The knowledge that has been accumulated over the years in not created in any Knowledge management system then the accumulated knowledge would never be able to be used and such knowledge to create again would be a challenge in itself (O'Leary, 1998).
The third step that has to be taken up as a part of the Knowledge Circulation Process is the knowledge sharing process. This step promises and promotes diffusion of knowledge and contributes effectively to make the necessary work done and also the to stress on the knowledge intensive (Ruggles, 1998). Individuals working in such an organisation would consider themselves to be knowledge workers. If an individual has an appropriate base from which they can access any information or knowledge that helped resolve any project situation such information could be put to use in the present situations to complete their work successfully (Sviokla, 1996). These do require knowledge to be compiled from multiple sources and have to integrate into a single source to obtain improved performance.
The fourth step that comes in the process of Knowledge Circulation Process is knowledge utilization and occurs at all the levels of management activities in any particular organisation. The best and the popular forms of knowledge utilization is to adopt the best practice from the other organisations and uncover its relevant knowledge, apply that in the particular situation and also Create such knowledge for the organisation to use it in the futuristic situations (Blanning, et. al., 1995). The fifth component is the knowledge internalization, which may occur when individual workers discover relevant knowledge, obtain it and then apply it. Therefore, internalization may give rise to new knowledge. In this way, it provides a basis for active knowledge creation.
Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) proposed that knowledge conversion, from tacit to explicit knowledge and vice-versa, occurs through a life ‘knowledge flow' cycle: socialisation, internalisation, externalisation, and combination.
Knowledge management can be described as the management of the environment, letting the knowledge flow through different phases of the life cycle. Thus, knowledge developed at one place in an organisation can be made available to other units through an organisational knowledge repository. Companies survive with the continuous development of such knowledge based on creative ideas, daily experiences, and work in R&D departments (Lee, et. al., 2005). A company can only perform at its best if all available knowledge areas are combined. The effectiveness of KCP is influenced by the organisational culture: human relationships, harmony between decision-making entities, quality of the work process, strategic alliances with vendors, customer trust, effectiveness of strategic management, and the CEO's (Chief Executive Officer) character and vision, etc.
This chapter discusses the different research paradigms, research strategies, data collection methods in detail. Among all these different type of research paradigms and strategies, the researcher has to select an appropriate research strategy and data collection process where the researcher can evaluate the research aims of the topic can be analysed. Apart from different research strategies, ethical issues and limitations or problems associated with the research are discussed further in this chapter.
3.1 Research Approach
In simple terms research approach can be described as a process where a researcher gets to follow certain principles while actually conducting their research on a research topic. A researcher has to follow appropriate research paradigms, research strategies, appropriate data collection method so that their researcher would be more meaningful.
They are two types of approaches
- Qualitative approach
- Quantitative approach (Oates, 2006).
3.1.1 Qualitative approach
This method does not include statistical data, but it gives an opportunity for the researcher to do in depth analysis of the study. Case study and studying about individual's feelings and views are done in this method. The data under this approach can be in the form of a text, speech and images gathered from different participants can be used for research analysis purpose (Saunders, 2009).
3.1.2 Quantitative approach
This method involves in statistical data, this can be obtained by doing experiments and surveys. A survey provides us with statistical data which can be used generalized accordingly (Oates, 2006). The data in this approach can be in terms of numbers which helps a researcher to make it easy for representing the data in terms of pictures or graphs which give in detail analysis on the research aims which are proposed at the start of the research process.
Using this approach, the data can be collected via surveys, online survey, and face-to-face interactions with the participants and via emails. All the responses are gathered and stored in a excel sheet where the data can be analysed further.
For a researcher to plan their research work they have to follow certain rules and regulations, more over should actually understand the necessity and importance of each and every process involved in research methods subject area. I have analyzed different areas within research methods subject area and they are listed below.
3.2 Research Philosophy
This is the initial stage of a research process, where a research actually philosophically thinks about his research topic and study according to his views. Although they are different research philosophies available but the research philosophies analyzed for this research process are of three kinds and they are discussed in more detail in the sub-sections below:
- Critical (Oates, 2006).
3.2 1 Positivist
In this process an individual will look for evidence in the form of statistics and results obtained from the collected data by using different data collection methods. One of the best methods to collect data according to a positivist research is by planning to conduct a survey (McNabb, 2007). This process is based upon on quantitative research methodology where the data is collected in the form of numbers. These numbers are treated as number of response from participants while conducting a survey. This type of researchers believe that if the statistical evidence is available and documented simultaneously while research work is going on, other researchers also can verify the research work based on the evidence. In simple terms, the research work can be monitored if other researchers have interest on the particular research topic (Turner, 2001).
In this research, the researcher looks into evidence in terms of individual's experiences and studies based on the topic area before (Oates, 2006). The researcher believes that quantitative data is not considered appropriate while planning research. For this type of research paradigm case study research strategy is the best option because case study gives a detail description about the research topic and it states individual's perceptions regarding the topic area. In order words, it can be stated as this research paradigm is based on qualitative research methodology (Walker, 2007).
This type of research paradigm is generally used by critiques and it is not well used by researchers to analyse their research topic. As the name it-self states that the research topic is critical analyzed to identify benefits and risks involved in the research work (Saunders, 2009).
3.2.4 Research Philosophy Selected
To plan further to this research and to analyse the research topic the author has selected positivism as research strategy. Within this process or strategy a researcher is able to analyse framed research aims effectively and can get to a conclusion based on the response obtained by the participants. To support this philosophical study on the research topic, the author has planned to conduct a quantitative research approach which helps analyse further in the research.
The author will use surveys as the data collection method for quantitative data analysis and will able to analyse the responses obtained by individual participants. The responses are obtained for the survey questionnaires framed according to the research aims. Questions related to Intranet and Internet technologies, the use of these technologies in their personal and professional life etc. These questions are framed and these questions are not limited, it depends upon the user to gather minute detail then he can incorporate more number of questions. But to make the survey user-friendly and interactive the questions should be limited. All these data can be analysed further in data analysis stage of research work.
3.3 Research Strategies
A strategy can be defined in simple terms as a plan or a process which is analyzed by the researcher to carry on with his research about the related topic. The planning is based on different activities within a research and these different tasks are specified with a time limit to carry on (Badke, 2004).
There are different strategies available for a researcher to plan for his/her research topic and analysis on the topic is done accordingly. Research strategies are listed below:
- Action Research
- Case studies
- Grounded theory
- Surveys (Oates, 2006)
All these research strategies are discussed briefly below stating the process involved in all each and every strategy
3.3.1 Action Research
Action research is considered as a process which involves in hypothetico-deductive process that generates and tests propositions. When this process is used in real time situations, it seeks to identify complexities of specific situations that look out for a change on the research topic (McNiff and Whitehead, 2002). Involvement of participants in this process makes this process as desirable to carefully specify the relationship with the facilitators which are involved in the research situation. Action research can be considered as a controlled study which has a scientific method of approach to social problems which discovers the effectiveness of various problems related to area of study (Waster and Johns, 2003).
3.3.2 Case Studies
In terms of methodological literature research analysis, the case study approach has lot of importance for evaluating the research topic (Saunders, 2009). Case study as a research strategy has its own importance for analysing research topics related to anthropology, psychology, sociology, political science, business/marketing field areas (Oates, 2006). The topics in this field can be effectively analyzed using this research strategy. This approach reflects the researcher views on the case that has been analysed for evaluating his research topic, thus it helps a researcher to reconstruct the ideas that are already proposed in study and helps him to draw conclusion based on the literature available. Generally this type of research strategy is used in qualitative research methodology. This type of research strategy is widely used and has its own strengths and weakness which depend upon the research topic selected by the researcher (Xiao and Smith, 2005).
Ethnography is one of the research strategies available for a researcher to understand how people create and experience their understanding through different processes such as making, inhabiting social places and representing spatial imaginaries (Oates, 2006). The study is considered as multi-method and time consuming approach where ethnographers actually live in geographies for observing, participating, writing field notes, sketching maps, gathering visual materials, documentary materials while period of study (Fetterman, 2007). These are different activities that are carried out within a research process by ethnographers; ethnographers are researchers who believe that research analysis is done effectively following ethnography as their research strategy (Till, 2009).
3.3.4 Grounded Theory
When a theory or a concept is proposed by using grounded theory, then a constant comparison is done within the different stages of analysing the research topic (Saunders, 2009). As a constant comparison is carried out throughout the research process, the concept is developed at regular intervals and most of the researchers considered that grounded theory approach doesn't give any conclusive ideas about the research study, but it give a unfinished product at each and every stage of the research study (Goulding,2002). Thus final research conclusion cannot be achieved with the study and always modifications are necessary with this type of research strategy and perfect results cannot be developed and this process is considered as irreversible (Wagner, et. al., 2009).
This type of research strategy is used for analysing research topics which fall under physical sciences and research topics where results in terms of figures and facts are necessary (Oates, 2006). This strategy is used by researchers where the use a conclusive conclusion can be achieved for the framed research questions about the topic area. The process is iterative just like as a water fall model in software development cycle for information system. Each and every step is interlinked and the result from one step is associated with the analysis of the next step. This type of strategy gives an extreme understanding about the research topic and can be analyzed further by other researchers if they want in future (Cason, et. al., 2006).
Surveys involves a collection of information from wide range of participants either electronically or by person. The process involves in simple process where information is gathered from participants in the form of predefined format (Fowler, 2009). Based on the cost and time factors, survey can be carried out by using mail service, telephonic service and face-to-face interaction. The survey questionnaire can be framed according to objective and subjective approaches. The responses obtained from this research strategy are analyzed and converted into statistical data or percentage or any other convenient method according to the researcher wish and then represented. The represented data can be used for conclusion and helps to a proper understanding about the topic (Malhotra and Grover, 1998).
3.4 Data Collection Process
The research strategy opted for this study is survey. It will be helpful for research topic because it gives the author an opportunity to interact with wide range of participants in person. The author has also selected is the use of the Internet and Intranet in knowledge management process of an IT organisation. The topic is involved in user satisfaction and how people use it in their day to day life, with this method the author can discover details regarding the usage of this system in their daily life and usage in their professional life. The main aim of this research is to look at whether effective knowledge management is possible and identify if it is the only effective method available for today's organisations for maintaining their database.
Due to the wide range of options available within this strategy, this strategy will be helpful for the author's research work and helps to analyse the research aims. In this case survey a research strategy would be a best option because it is a result oriented process where data can be collected in short time and the results can be converted into any form of representation. If the researcher wants to represent the data in the form of graphical representation, then these data can be utilised to draw graphs, thus presenting data can also be available with this type of research strategy. Based upon the cost estimated for the research work, survey procedure can be designed according the budget allocated for that particular purpose.
The research questions can be shared online by using the email facility and can also be shared by online chat rooms. Participants can be interviewed face-to-face or they can be interviewed by telephone. The process is entirely reliant on the researcher's idea of conducting a survey.
3.5 Ethical Issues
Interaction with different participants is done within the survey procedure, a researcher should be aware of the ethical issues that should be dealt with before carrying out the work - these issues are discussed vriefly below.
Participants should be treated with uttermost care and have to understand their requirements before agreeing to participate in the survey. If participants are willing to partake in the survey and have requested special requirements, then the researcher has to consider their requirements and follow the requirements. This helps to build a better understanding of an individual while actually planning a survey and thus better responses can be expected which in return is helpful for the research work.
Additionally, participants should be encouraged to take part in the survey but they should not be forced at any point of the survey. If participants have filled out the survey forcefully, the responses obtained would not be truly valid and therefore not useful for analysing research aims.
Communication gaps and misunderstandings between researcher and participants are common while conducting a survey but the researcher has to make sure that to avoid such instances so that the survey can be carried out in a better manner.
Privacy of the data is considered as another issue while conducting a survey, researchers have to make sure that participants are aware of the privacy of data collected from them.
Ethical issues come into existence mainly when there is a direct interaction between the researcher and the individuals who are passively taking part in the research. Research work should be carried out with due considerations of others feelings and should be precise about what information is he looking for; this will help both the researcher and the participants.
In this chapter, topics that are related to research methods, research paradigms, research strategies, different data collection methods are described in detail and appropriate research paradigm and research strategies are selected with respective to the topic. The chapter also includes details about ethical issues involved while conducting a research. The next chapter discusses the analysis of the research aims and discussing more about primary data collection and secondary data collection.
The chapter discusses the analysed data. The main aim of this research study is to define knowledge management and its importance in today's business organisations. The study aims to determine whether knowledge management process is necessary in an organisation or not. The study also includes determining the role of the Intranet and Internet technologies in maintaining knowledge. Additionally this chapter discusses the analysis of the research aims and objectives appropriately and an analysis model is designed. In order to analyse and determine the above research aims, methods like primary data collection process and secondary data collection process were utilised.
4.1 Data Analysis
In the previous chapter, different data gathering process were discussed in detail, out of which the researcher selected certain methods according to the research aims.
4.1.1. Primary Data Collection
The data obtained by framing relevant survey questions and from the data obtained from different participants were stored in a Microsoft Excel sheet and analysed at the end of data collection process. For this dissertation, a questionnaire consisting of 16 questions which are framed according to the research aims.
The use of Google Documents was adopted to distribute the questionnaires, all the framed questionnaires were tabulated in Google Documents and a link was generated at the end of the process. The link was forwarded to different participants irrespective of distance. In total 120 responses were gathered for this dissertation. All these responses were stored in a Microsoft Excel sheet and this data is discussed in detail Chapter Five.
The participants were employees of different organizations, where few very in good positions and few other participants where software developers.
4.1.2 Secondary Data Collection
In this type of data collection process, information regarding the research topic and research aims are gathered from different books and journals where the basic understanding about the research topic and research aims is achieved with the help of these. The detailed study about the research topic resulted in framing the questionnaire and related to the research aims and the results analysed effectively.
4.2 Analysis Table
To focus on the research aims and research objectives a model is framed which is termed an Analysis Model. In this model the questionnaires framed according to the research objectives are shown; this will help the reader and the researcher to follow and proceed with the research study with ease.
To determine the role of Internet and Intranet technologies within the organisation
To determine the role of Knowledge management and its importance within an organisation
Does Intranet and Internet are best possible option for better knowledge management within organisations
Furthermore, this analysis model is used in the last chapter of the research study while analysing the data and linking with the literature review. This will help the researcher to draw conclusive statements and also help the researcher to stay focused on the research aims and objectives.
- The research carried out on the following assumptions, they are listed below: All the participants have minimum knowledge about knowledge management systems and software cycle development
- All the participants are taking up the survey voluntarily
- Participants are informed about the survey process
- The data is stored in an Excel sheet.
This chapter briefly discusses the data gathering process and identifying the number of participant's data gathered for further analysis. All the gathered data from the survey is stored in a Microsoft Excel sheet where the data is analysed and represented graphically in the next chapter. Each question is analysed according the data gathered and the data is represented in graphs which will be discussed in the next chapter. Apart from the data collection process, the survey questionnaire is detailed in the APPENDIX I.
In this chapter the collected data is analysed and represented in terms of graphs and figures where the data is represented more effectively. Additionally in this chapter, a brief explanation of each graph is briefly discussed, where the views of the participants are discussed cumulatively. The graphs are prepared according to the collected data from the survey.
5.1 Quantitative Data Findings
Figure 7 identifies that 67% of participants believe that knowledge management systems helps in fast and better decision making while 22% strongly agree the statement. 10% of participants believe that knowledge management systems are not helpful for
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