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The government of Madhya Pradesh (MP) has setup the School of Good Governance and Policy Analysis as an autonomous institution in Bhopal to bring about good governance in public policy through international collaboration with institutions. The mission is to develop a Knowledge Resource Hub and Repository and work on other strategies to motivate and encourage strengthening of good governance that is transparent, participation, accountable and focus on improving the quality of lives of people. The function of the school comprise of three wings - governance, knowledge management and policy analysis. As such the multidimensional activities of the school involve advising the government, acting as think tank, creating a platform for interaction of experts in the filed and those engaged in development of new knowledge, analysis of policies of government, peer review about impact of government policies and schemes among other activities. The school is committed to leverage KM and wishes to evaluate KM and explore more to meet its objectives.
Current Adoption of KM
The school used a system called Knowledge Help Extension Technology Initiative (KHETI) to leverage collective/collaborative knowledge and efforts of multiples departments and state governments across the country to provide long-term solutions to challenging problems like generating an agricultural knowledge bank for sharing knowledge that benefits poor agricultural community. In addition, it has setup a web portal call Ideas for CM (http://www.ideasforcm.net) to encourage citizen to share and contribute to the governance or development of the State including best practices from others. Additionally, the school maintains a Knowledge And Information Repository (KAIR) for easy and fast access to the repository of reading and learning reference material, collection of best practices etc. KAIR is used an interactive portal for posting problems and solution in the communities and is used for dissemination of periodic information of other resources. There was an intention to link KAIR with other well-established institutions and organisations for sharing materials thus serving as a revenue stream as the maintenance and acquisition of materials for KAIR can become expensive.
Analysis of Situation
With globalisation and continuous innovations in information and communication technologies (ICT), competitive has intensified. Thus, the capability to secure timely access to actionable knowledge, i.e., the ability to create, organise, leverage and protect intellectual capital resources and to achieve value creation outputs represents a core competency of policy makers, State government, business leaders and managers (Sveiby, 1997; Steward, 1997; Chan and Mauborgne, 1997; Li-Hua, 2004; Truch, 2004). According to World Development Report 1998/99, World Bank (1999), "Knowledge makes the difference between poverty and wealth" Thus, knowledge has been identified as one of the major factors, if not THE crucial factor of development for India.
One of the challenges would be to govern knowledge effectively by providing governmental support for the development of a knowledge infrastructure via one conducive legal framework, re-organising the educational system and setting up institutions to support research and development activities.
Knowledge governance (Kaufmann et al., 1999; Evers and Menkhoff, 2004; Stehr, 2004) is both an administrative process and a structure of authority relations where it involves the channelling of resources in building up knowledge management capabilities and improving the competitive advantage of a country in the world market by utilising knowledge as a factor of production.
During the past few years, India has proactively embraced the knowledge governance agenda aimed at catching-up with fully-developed economies in Europe and North-America so as to enhance their global economic relevancy and to improve service delivery, e.g. by leveraging on "new-age E-governance" frameworks (Misra, Hariharan and Khaneja, 2003:47). The rise of information technologies and the Internet, the concept of information management and the means by which information is a strategic tool for both government and citizen alike, have become of paramount importance. This changing climate of societal norms has created an evolving discipline of knowledge management and knowledge sharing. In a knowledge driven economy, the intellectual capital of the citizen could become government's and society's most important asset
Strategic Initiatives to move forward
In order to achieve the goals of effective KM to meet its objectives, it is important that there be a number of factors at play to make this work. Apart from strong leadership within any public sector organisation that endorses and champions the importance of knowledge management, this leadership should not be just from the very top of an agency or department within the government but from heads of sectors and divisions within the departments. There should be a need to develop a knowledge culture to improve and implement knowledge strategy (frameworks, priorities and plans) and to lead knowledge culture initiatives (communities of practice, knowledge-maps, sharing). In another word, to succeed in the knowledge economy there are certain very basic policies that are needed. The first is to create a cultural change within the institutions of the country. To do that, it is important that it established its own internal understanding and the wisdom of its culture in order to transform the organisation and the country into a viable knowledge-based economy. Institutional change will be crucial as who can be better to develop its own strategy but the government of the country. Having a Knowledge Management strategy in place can determine what is needed for the country and put the necessary process in place to create the transformation.
Another important step would be to develop a technological infrastructure. One of the vital tools a government needs in order to embrace as much of their citizenry is wide access to the Internet and ICTs. To achieve both, funding by the government is necessary. There should be programs to increase and widen computer literacy in the area of the school, workplace and community. In many countries, raising the overall literacy of the population is a primary goal. Part of this should be built into programs to ensure that the current and next generations become computer literate.
Information technology pervades our lives and drives nearly all facets of life. This is not just isolated to developed countries, but is evident in most of the developing countries. In the case of the latter, the technology and the economic prospects they bring, are not as universal. However to thrive in the global knowledge economy it is going to be important to change the whole educational system to ensure a wide base of knowledge workers who understand and use these information technologies. Thus, education and training are keys in order to ensure the skills for the knowledge economy exist in abundance. It is important that there be an army of skilled technical experts who understand and can apply technical knowledge. These workers are the underpinnings of the knowledge economy.
Furthermore, there is need for programs to fund businesses to get them online. This is an important lesson many of the developed countries have had to learn. Getting businesses online is not just ensuring wide access to the Internet. It also requires extensive educational programs so business leaders understand the opportunities and benefits of having an online presence. This is important so that they can take advantage of the world as a potential customer.
Equally crucial is that business be able to thrive in a competitive environment, and can compete, not only within their own country but also in the wider global economy. Diversity is a key characteristic of the knowledge economy. It is also important that there be intellectual property laws to protect businesses and innovators. However, the laws themselves must be flexible to ensure that monopolies do not develop (Stiglitz, 1999:6-9). It is important that there be innovation, creativity and diversity in the emerging knowledge economy and in the culture of government departments in order to adapt to the changes being brought by information and communication technologies.
There also needs to be a coordinated strategy for what knowledge management principles should be applied that is developed in tandem with the overall goals and objectives. Knowledge is a strategic tool that is resident in numerous places. This ranges from the tacit, explicit and cultural knowledge and experience of individuals to the vast reservoir of information that is resident within private and public sector organisations. The public sector should recognise that they need to harness the knowledge of all of their workers, not just the highly skilled, innovative and creative worker to compete effectively and to respond to the changing culture due to the impacts of new technologies. Since a person with talent and drive can easily move around within the marketplace, there should be aggressive program within government to attract new, skilled workers and to keep current employees. It is the function of the knowledge management worker to ensure that the knowledge assets of such highly valued employees is also put to the most effective use in pursuit of corporate and public objectives while the worker is with the organisation.
With globalization spurred on by the Internet 24x7, this means that ideas and innovation can be occurring around the clock. In such environment, it will be important for the public sector to develop mechanisms to encourage the private and public sector research organisations to be innovative and able to deploy knowledge as more and more individuals and companies are engaged in businesses that are connected to the Internet. One way would be to form partnerships between private public sector organizations to extract and share knowledge for the overall common good of the government programs. This is an important principle as, if properly applied and implemented, it can lead to increased efficiency, productivity and overall improvement of program delivery since it involves the citizenry. Another alternative could be to develop or create a smart park milieu with a vibrant epistemic culture of R&D works and innovation as well as synergistic collaboration between the public and private sectors as part of the KM frameworks help develop knowledge and shared knowledge.
In summary, to succeed in the knowledge economy, governments need to:
develop programs to create a climate to nurture knowledge workers; education is the key in this process, starting with front-end entrance institutions to higher education institutes;
invest in online connectivity to embrace as much of the citizenry online;
invest in technology to build infrastructures that support knowledge workers and strategies for growth of the national knowledge economy;
build programs to stimulate innovation and creativity;
enact legislation to create security and confidence for businesses to operate in the growing knowledge economy;
create web sites within government with information that will assist businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to engage in knowledge-based economic activity; and
work to bring about cultural change in institutions to adapt to the new economy emerging in the world.
Conclusions and Recommendations for the Public Sector
Communities of practice consist of people who are informally as well as contextually bound by a shared interest in learning and applying a common practice. Their focus on learning, competence, and performance bridges the gap between organizational learning and strategy topics and generates new insights for theory and practice.
While the above examples are of embryonic KM initiatives within the federal government, it is clear that government recognizes the value of KM principles to adapt to the demands of this knowledge-based environment. Public sector organizations are beginning to capitalize on the four identifiable elements of knowledge management:
collective information resources;
the intellectual capital of individuals;
the multitude of external resources available to government; and
the input of citizens who now have the capacity to play an interactive role in the process of government.
It is also clear that success of these initiatives will depend upon both leadership and commitment at senior levels of government organizations to break down barriers and "silo thinking". It will also require more refined use of one of the most important resources - the intellectual capital of people who work in the public service. To be successful, the leadership within an organization must embrace knowledge sharing concepts and its precepts. More importantly, it must be a key component in the strategic vision of the organization. An additional, vital component is that there need to be designated officials and supporting staff to reorganize the organization and implement the principles of knowledge management to maximum benefit.
It is inherently clear that virtually every employee is a potential source of data, information and insights that constitute, in one form or another, a source of knowledge that is or could be invaluable to the goals and aims of the organization. The degree to which an organization manages knowledge to its advantage and forwarding of its strategic vision, is the degree to which the leaders of the organization can draw upon this source of potential wealth.