An Introduction to Organisational Learning and Knowledge Management

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

  1. Introduction (2464 words)

The field of organizational learning (OL) and knowledge management (KM) has acknowledged the attention of researchers and practitioners from all over the world in the past 20 years and will grow constantly in the next 10 years (Easterby-Smith and Lyles, 2011). The main reason for growth of this field because of the contribution of knowledge workers in the growth of knowledge economy. As Drucker (1999) has highlighted that knowledge workers’ productivity is the great challenge for the competitive edge of a global economy. Therefore, organizations need to focus more on the organizational learning (OL) concept to promote knowledge management in this era.

Organizational learning is a change in the organization that occurs as the organization acquires experience. However, Eaterby- Smith (2000) debated that organizational learning defined as a change in cognitions or behaviour. Overall, most of the researchers would agree with the defining organizational learning as a change in the organization’s knowledge that occurs as a function of experience (Fiol and Lyles, 1985). In the organization learning, knowledge can manifest itself in changes in cognitions or behaviour that including explicit and tacit components.

Knowledge management is the planning, organizing, motivating and control of people, processes and systems in the organization to ensure knowledge- relate assets are improves and employed (W.R. King, 2009). From the knowledge management in the organizational learning would be transfer the knowledge through the knowledge management process to develop the social media. Creativity and innovation would be developing from knowledge management in the organization.

The objectives of this paper are:

  1. Identify how organizations learn from the literature on the topic in recent conceptual framework.
  2. Report the nature of knowledge management from the literature on the topic in recent conceptual framework.
  3. Undertake an analysis of KLM- Royal Dutch Airlines and how KLM develop/ exploit Social Media (SM) for business advantages.
  4. Determine how KLM become more innovative as consequence of theoretical and empirical analysis of OL/KM and SM.
  1. Literature Review
  1. Organizational Learning (recent conceptual framework)

Figure 1 show the framework for analysing organizational learning aims to parse organizational learning to make it more tractable analytically. Glynn et al. (1994) claimed that organizational learning occurs in a context that includes organization and the environment in which the organization is implanted. Experiences from the workers in the organization transpire as task performance in the framework. Experience can be measured in term of cumulative number of task performances (Argote and Miron- Spektor, 2011). For example, experience would be measured by cumulative numbers of products or services designed in design firms.

C:\Users\User\Desktop\Organizational Learning theory.png

Figure 1: A theoretical framework for analysing organizational learning

Source: Argote and Miron Spektor 2011, Journal of Organization Science

Environmental context also involve in this framework where includes elements outside the boundaries of the organization or called as external forces such as competitors, clients, institutions and regulators. As a result, the environmental context also affects the experience the organization acquires. From the figure above prove that context interacts with experience to create knowledge. Therefore, knowledge acquired by learning is embedded in the organization’s context and changes the context. Weber and Camerer (2003) stated that knowledge can be embedded in the active context and organization’s latent context such as its culture that will effect for the future learning.

The active context comprises the basic element of organizations, members and tools that related with the organization’s task. Then, the latent context affects which individuals are members of the organizations, type of tools and task performed. By contrast, latent and active context is the capability for action. The conceptualization of active context in this theoretical framework builds on the concept of McGrath and colleagues (Arrow et al. 2000, McGrath and Argote, 2001). With the combination of their frameworks which is basic element about the members, tools and tasks combine to form networks called as organization’s social network. Social network could be within organization where knowledge is transferred from one people to another people within organization.

Moving members from one organizational unit to another is also a mechanism for transferring knowledge (Kane et al. 2005) called as knowledge transfer. For example by helping to identify pattern in data where task sequences can also be knowledge repositories and serve as knowledge transfer mechanism (Darr et al. 1995).

2.2 Nature of Knowledge Management (recent conceptual framework)

First of all, the theory of organizational knowledge creation developed by Nonaka and his colleagues (Nonaka 1994; Nonaka et. al. 1994; Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995; Nonaka et. al. 2000; 2001a; Nonaka & Toyama 2003) created in studies of information creation in innovating companies (Imai et. al. 1985; Nonaka 1988a, 1988b, 1990, 1991b, Nonaka & Yamanouchi 1989; Nonaka & Kenney 1991) and performs to have undergone two phases of development.

Initially, there are two dimensional theory of knowledge creation by Nonaka. Firstly, epistemological that relate to the social interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge whereby knowledge is converted, and new knowledge created by (Nonaka et. al. 1994: 338; Nonaka 1994: 15). Four modes of knowledge conversion known as SECI model today was identified in Figure 2 which is tacit to tacit (Socialization), tacit to explicit (Externalization), explicit to explicit (Combination), and explicit to tacit (Internalization) where it called as knowledge management in an organization. Nonaka and Konno (1999) describe knowledge creation as a “spiralling process of interactions between explicit and tacit knowledge

C:\Users\User\Desktop\SECI Model.png

Figure 2: The knowledge creation

Source: Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995

Knowledge is often defined as a justified personal belief. The most fundamental distinction of taxonomies is between tacit and explicit knowledge. Polanyi (1966) stated that tacit knowledge inhabits the minds of people and either impossible, or difficult, to articulate. However, some knowledge is inserted in business processes, activities, and relationships that have been created over time through the implementation of a continuing series of improvements. In fact, explicit knowledge exists in the form of words, sentences, documents, organized data, and computer programs and in other explicit forms.

C:\Users\User\Desktop\KM TH.pngFrom the theoretical creation of the knowledge by Nonaka and Takeuchi, the other frameworks can be continuously developed in the organization to improve the organizational performance for the future. The model in Figure 3 shows the initiation of the KM framework involves from creation or the acquisition of knowledge in an organization. Knowledge creation involves developing new knowledge or replacing existing knowledge with new content (Nonaka, 1994). The focus of this is usually on knowledge creation inside the boundary of the firm or in conjunction with partners. The four bullet points under “Creation” refer to Nonaka’s (1994) four modes of knowledge creation of socialization (the conversion of tacit knowledge to new tacit knowledge through social interactions and shared experiences), combination (creating new explicit knowledge by merging, categorizing, and synthesizing existing explicit knowledge), externalization (converting tacit knowledge to new explicit knowledge) and internalization (the creation of new tacit knowledge from explicit knowledge).

Figure 3: Knowledge Management (KM) process/ framework in the organization.

Source: William R. King (2009)

Acquisition in the table illustrate some processes for acquiring knowledge from external sources for instance searching as on the Internet (Menon and Pfeffer, 2003), sourcing (selecting the source to use) (King and Lekse, 2006) and grafting (adding an individual who possesses desired knowledge to the organization) (Huber, 1991) .

Once knowledge is transferred or shared within organization through elaboration in term of development of different interpretations, infusion in term of identification of underlying issues, and thoroughness in term of development of multiple understandings by different individuals or groups (King and Ko, 2001) so that the knowledge would be helpful in facilitating innovation, collective learning, individual learning and collaborative problem solving (King, 2005). It may also be implanted in the practices, systems, products and relationships of the organization through the creation of knowledge-intensive organizational capabilities (Levitt and March, 1988).

At the end of the result, depicts knowledge having impact on the organizational performance in the future that will improved productivity, revenues, profit and return on investment (King, 2009).

3.0 Case Analysis: KLM- Royal Dutch Airlines and Social Media

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has operated flights all over the world for more than 90 years. KLM is one of the largest airlines and most successful international airline companies with more than 32,000 employees offering more than 133 international destinations all over the world. KLM has taken the enterprise for Corporate Social Responsibility directed at customers, employees and society. For this reason, KLM exploited social media to more fully attain the company mission of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Developing/ Exploiting of Social Media for Business Advantage

KLM has started to use social media in the business through Twitter in 2009 and Facebook in early 2009. Social media became more useful and explosive beginning following the eruption of the Icelandic volcano in Ireland, Eyjafjallajökull in April 2010. Due to this problem that produced an ash, it was causing airline flights to come to all stall for 6 days without any business running. During this time, customer service requests became more crowded and caused problem in KLM’s call centre.

C:\Users\User\Desktop\SM KLM.pngC:\Users\User\Desktop\SM KLM.pngFortunately by developing of social media since 2009, KLM using social media elements with the help of internal volunteers to quickly respond via Facebook and Twitter. KLM acknowledged a lot of positive publicity about deciding customer service issues socially during this crisis and the effect of using social media networks as a form of customer interaction was profound at this stage. Finally for the business advantages in the future, CEO of KLM, Peter Hartman announcing that the company would invest in evolving an on-going social media strategy centrally focused around improving customer centricity by referring Figure 4.

Figure 4: Social Media used by KLM- Royal Dutch Airlines (Twitter and Facebook)

Three elements that important about social media acknowledged by KLM top management for the business advantages are KLM strives to distribute brilliant customer support through social media, recognizes customers talk about brands on social media and social media is an excellent acquisition channel for the fans compare to the marketing campaign. With this three elements, KLM established a company-wide policy that involved a joint effort of multiple departments intended at leveraging “service, brand and commerce” via social media. KLM established social media management team to dependably post creative, engaging content and campaigns develop social products and to offer customers 24/7 service and every issue must be resolved within 24 hours. This will give the business advantage to the KLM where it will encourage the loyalty of the passengers and derived the revenue for the future from the KLM three pillar social media strategy, “Reputation, Service and Commerce”.

Some other business advantage derived from the social media implemented by KLM are higher internal emphasis on servicing the customers by communication via social networks, direct feedback by KLM customers resulted for the product improvement and improve commercial value of KLM. Other than that, more united and proud employee base due to the compliments receives via social media and KLM optimized the daily social content and organized creative campaign.

4.0 KLM- Royal Dutch Airlines Innovations

KLM began to introduce innovation campaign to show the dedication to social customer service rather than just responding through social media. The campaign gave advantage to the KLM where led to more satisfied customer based, improve engaged social community and as a result could drastically increase in fan growth and brand awareness.

Figure 5: KLM business innovation

Source: Socialbakers- KLM Case Study (2013)

Live Reply

C:\Users\User\Desktop\SM KLM.pngKLM wanted to show dedicated of social media awareness to the customers in September 2011 with help of more than 500 internal volunteers where KLM responded to each individual tweet and post with a one minute adapted video of KLM employees that holding letters to form the fitting response in live.

Figure 6: Live reply by KLM

Meet and Seat

C:\Users\User\Desktop\SM KLM.pngThis social product allows for KLM passengers especially entrepreneur to search for other passengers on the same flight connect through Twitter or Facebook and then organize sitting next to each other that will gain valuable awareness when traveling to new markets.

Figure 7: Passenger search for other passengers for same flight via Twitter and Facebook

Trip Planner

The product is designed to allow with simply steps which is passenger will plan a trip and invite friends, then book KLM flights via a social application. This will increases KLM profits originating from social media and provides customer service effectively.

C:\Users\User\Desktop\SM KLM.png

Figure 8: KLM trip planner

KLM Surprise

C:\Users\User\Desktop\SM KLM.pngKLM’s social media managers ran a campaign that involved by monitoring passengers’ social profiles and the activity of booking with the airlines. Then, when the passenger arrived at their destination, passenger would receive a surprise gift from KLM for flying as a token of appreciation to show to the world.

Figure 9: KLM’s staff giving surprised to passengers

Through the theoretical and empirical analysis of organizational learning, knowledge management and social media, this case study about KLM shows the correlation between the knowledge transfer within KLM and social network developed in the organization. As a result, the knowledge management will be transfer to develop some of the innovation in the organization for example using social media for business advantage and increase KLM’s performance for the future.

5.0 Conclusion

As a conclusion, knowledge management is conducted in many different ways in the organization that should be headed by a Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO). Knowledge management strategy could be implemented by CKO to the other department for instance, the communications linkages among various KM groups are of great importance (King, 2005; King, 2008). Therefore, organizational culture is believed to influence the knowledge-related behaviours of individuals, teams, organizational units and overall organizations because it importantly influences the determination of which knowledge it is appropriate to share, with whom and when importantly (Oliver and Kandadi, 2006). Knowledge is transferred within organization from department to other department to form the social network in the organization. However, performance of the organization improve by using the technology today that develop from the organizational learning in the form of social media via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google and so on. From the development of social media that exploit business advantages to the organization, the innovation will take place to review and improve the performance in the organization as in KLM- Dutch Airlines case study.

Implication and Limitation of the Report

The implications of the report are researcher could critically understand about nature, process of knowledge creation and transfer within social network organization. Other than that, this report could evaluate how individual learning and organizational dynamics combine to create innovation as KLM does. The limitation of the report is the lack of journal that relates innovation and social media because social media is just develops in 21st century around 2010 and above. Last but not least, time of doing the research about the empirical data of KM, OL and SM involve in the report is not enough to come out the best research.

(2464 words)