The Knowledge Management Definition Business Essay

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This chapter present and discuss background of study, problem statement, purpose of research, research questions, research objectives, research hypothecs and significant of the study. Finally the key terms of this research are also defined.

1.1 Background of the Study

Knowledge is now being seen as the most important strategic resource in organizations, and the management of this knowledge is considered critical to organizational success. If organizations have to capitalize on the knowledge they possess, they have to understand how knowledge is created, shared, and used within the organization. Knowledge exists and is shared at different levels in organizations. This article examines knowledge sharing at the most basic level; namely, between individuals in organizations. Based on a review of existing literature in this area, this article presents a model that identifies factors that most significantly influence knowledge sharing at this level.

A common platform where individuals work in unison to earn profits as well as a livelihood for themselves is called an organization. A place where individuals realize the dream of making it big is called an organization. Every organization has its unique style of working which often contributes to its culture. The beliefs, ideologies, principles and values of an organization form its culture. The culture of the workplace controls the way employees behave amongst themselves as well as with people outside the organization.

The inextricable association among knowledge and culture is obvious within organizations in subcultures that coexist within the same organization and are distinguished by their sights of knowledge. Subcultures vary from one another in the shared assumptions that direct their actions. Numerous researches have studied the assumptions of subcultures related with knowledge for instance: Harrison Harrison & Stokes (1992) proposed four organizational ideologies namely power orientation, role orientation, task orientation and person orientation. Schein (2010) identified three subcultures present in organizations: (a) the operator culture, (b) the engineering culture, and (c) the executive culture. The worker culture presumes that organizational achievement depends on individual's knowledge and skills. The engineering culture is based on the assumption that the best explanations are "people free"; it prefers quantitative knowledge that is linear, with simple cause-and-effect associations. Lastly, the management culture believes 4 that citizens are an essential evil to attain organizational objectives. It values knowledge that promotes effectiveness and productivity. De Long & Fahey (2000) examined the correlation between culture and the creation, sharing, and utilize of knowledge. They concluded that culture, and principally subcultures significantly influence these knowledge-related processes in four ways:

1. Culture shapes assumptions concerning which knowledge is significant.

2. Culture mediates the associations between individual and organizational knowledge.

3. Culture creates a position for social interaction.

4. Culture shapes the creation and acceptance of new knowledge.

As Schein (2010) and De Long & Fahey (2000) argued, these four conclusions recommend that knowledge-related processes and organizational culture are closely associated. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between knowledge management and organizational culture, adopting the view of knowledge. Understanding how different cultural types are associated with specific knowledge management should shed light on how the relationship between organizational culture and knowledge management is manifested in the choices of organizations.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

KM has become a popular topic for research in modern business environment and the need for investigating factors that may hinder or support KM processes is rapidly increasing. Accordingly, huge number of studies concerning KM issues and specialized KM journals has become available and still emerging. In spite of this fact, and supported by the argument that organizational, social, and managerial theories are culturally constrained and reflect the culture of the environment where they International Research Journal of Finance and Economics - Issue 63 (2011) 217 were developed, it is irrational to assume that the available literature in developed countries concerning KM can be suitable to explain KM environment in other countries. This creates a huge gap in the available literature within the context of developing countries relating to KM practices, processes, environment and strategies which might limit organizational ability to adapt to the knowledge-based economy of today's environment. Accordingly, organizations of these countries are threatened to stay behind if the appropriateness of organizational environment for KM processes are not considered. This study assumes that the success or failure of KM application highly depends on the cultural setting which can strongly determine people's ability not only to create but also to share and effectively use knowledge and transfer their tacit knowledge into an explicit form that can benefit the whole organization. The lack of Arab literature concerning KM, which is considered as a problematic issue, provides a clear justification for conducting of this study. Based on this argument, this study adopt a case study approach to explore the appropriateness of organizational culture for KS as one of the most important KM processes and the impact of some key cultural attributes including: trust, collaborative working environment, shared vision and management practices on KS. Considering the complexity of culture concept and the dilemma of organizational culture, these four cultural attributes are seen, from this study's point of view, as comprehensive and common cultural factors that are expected to have an impact on sharing of knowledge among organizational members on different levels.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this quantitative grounded theory research is to examine the relationships between organizational culture and knowledge management processes to retain, share, and utilize mission-critical knowledge using a constructed-oriented approach. Knowledge management procedures may be broken down into a number of separate aspects. Knowledge sharing also called knowledge transfer or knowledge diffusion refers to the process by which knowledge is transferred from one person to another, from individuals to groups, or from one group to another group (Jones, Cline, & Ryan, 2006). The finding of this research will provide the means to recognition and modification techniques to develop a knowledge management. This investigates efforts to study key aspects of organizational culture, as evidenced in the literature, that support or hinder efficient knowledge management. As higher managers consider ways to permit and direct organizational knowledge, they will encounter a cultural factor that either facilitates or creates barriers to knowledge management. This research presents a selected compilation of these cultural factors that can aid an organization create, share, and utilize knowledge efficiently.

1.4 objective of the Study

In the light of the above theoretical view and the previous studies, this study explores the impact of four cultural dimensions including trust, collaborative working environment, shared vision, and management practices on KS as a key process involved in KM application. These are seen as an important attributes that, as this study proposed, can determine the appropriateness of JPMC's culture for successful application of KM. To achieve this aim, the study will seek to:

1) Determine the level of trust among members of JPMC.

2) Determine the level of collaborative working environment within the context of JPMC.

3) Explore the existence of a shared vision among members of JPMC.

4) Determine the nature of managerial practices within the context of JPMC.

1.5 Research Questions

Accordingly, this study seeks to answer the following main research questions:

• What are the perceptions of JPMC's employees concerning the level and nature of trust, collaborative working environment, shared vision and management practices within the context of JPMC?

• What is the impact of the proposed cultural attributes on sharing of knowledge among organizational members within the context of JPMC?

1.6 Research Hypotheses

To achieve the aim and objectives of this study, the following model (Figure 2) was proposed. To test the research model, the following main hypothesis was proposed: Cultural attributes (trust, collaborative working environment, management practices, and employees' shared vision) support KS within the context of JPMC. To test this main hypothesis, the following sub-hypotheses were proposed.

Hypothesis No. 1.1: The level of trust within the context of JPMC has significant statistical impact on KS.

Hypothesis No. 1.2: Collaborative working environment within the context of JPMC has significant statistical impact on KS.

Hypothesis No. 1.3: Employees shared vision within the context of JPMC has significant statistical impact on KS.

Hypothesis No. 1.4: Managerial practices within the context of JPMC have significant statistical impact on KS.

1.7 Significant of the Study

This study is of great importance not only for the future of Jordanian organizations but also for Arab organizations due to the shared social and cultural values of Arab countries. The current trend that views organizational knowledge as highly valuable organizational asset emphasizes the need to investigate the nature of this natural asset. It is our belief that Arab organizational culture may provide an advantage for Arab organizations. Since knowledge is in fact a social attribute that involves creating, sharing, transferring, and storing of a accumulative knowledge, Arab culture is expected to play a supportive role concerning the diffusion of KM practices. Understanding of cultural aspects may enhance the transformation of Arab organizations from conventional into modern and potentially role model of today's organizations which represent the dream of every Arab manager as well as every management scholar. The need to establish a well-defined and new Arab management concept might accordingly be enabled. Moreover, if we accept knowledge to be socially constructed then, like culture; it emerges through interaction existing only in a highly abstract form. Knowledge is thus seen in terms of cognitive, situational, experiential and emotional factors. There is a need, in the paradigm shift from the mechanistic treatment of knowledge to the organic, to find the simple rules that govern behavior in a complex environment, to enable people to acquire and transmit knowledge effectively. These processes can be enabled or disturbed by cultural factors that govern people's behavior within a social entity. Therefore it is highly important for the organization to recognize its culture and search for supportive cultural elements that could definitely enhance knowledge acquisition, knowledge creation or transfer, KS, knowledge retrieval, and knowledge leverage. The importance of this study comes from its attempt to define how culture can support or hinder KM application.

1.8 Scope of the Study

Although Malaysia has many universities and they employ thousands of workers, this research does not have enough resources to cover such high number of overall establishments and high number of workers. However, this research will only examine MMU in Cyberjaya. A certain number of workers who are working in different departments within MMU will be selected randomly. A proper sampling process will be undertaken systematically to represent this population.

1.9 Definition of Terms

1. 9.1 the Concept of Knowledge

Before attempting to address the question of knowledge management, it is important to highlights the following principles concerning the concept of knowledge.

• A collection of data is not information.

• A collection of information is not knowledge.

• A collection of knowledge is not wisdom.

• A collection of wisdom is not truth.

Figure (1) explains the relationships and hierarchy of the concepts of data, information, knowledge and wisdom.

Figure 1: Hierarchy of the concepts of data, information, knowledge and wisdom Source: Al-adaileh (2008)

That collection of data is not information; it implies that a collection of data for which there is no relation between the pieces of data is not information. Processing of data is the mechanism to transform the useless set of data into usable information. Processing of information which involves examination and identification of relationships between them transform the information into knowledge that will be of more value for individuals as well as for the organization. Wisdom arises when one understands the foundational principles responsible for the patterns representing knowledge being what they are. And wisdom, even more so than knowledge, tends to create its own context. These foundational principles are universal and completely context independent. Knowledge then can be seen as accumulation of information in the person's mind. The sources of knowledge are varied and may include interaction with others, experiences, readings, listening, emotional factor…etc. There are two types of knowledge including 'explicit' and 'tacit' knowledge. Explicit knowledge is formal and systematic and accordingly can be easily communicated and shared among people within a particular context. Examples of explicit knowledge may include documented organizational procedures, product specifications, or official organizational publications. Tacit knowledge is highly personal and hard to be formalized. It can only exist in the human's mind. It is a product of people interaction with each other and the people interaction with the environment around them. Tacit knowledge accordingly can be transformed into explicit knowledge through interaction and exchanging of ideas between people within a social context or through formal writing and publications. An organization should always seek ways to not only utilize the explicit knowledge but also to transform tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge and then create an appropriate environment to share this knowledge and use it effectively to achieve organizational goals.

1.9.2 Knowledge Management Definition

KM is a new management concept that is surrounded by a lot of hype (Raub & Wittich 2004). Thus it is quite difficult to define the concept of KM. Different authors interpret KM concept differently, they perceive knowledge by different aspect, that why the term knowledge management is not easy to define as because it contains multiple representations. Shaw & Edwards (2005) view KM as the sharing, retention, utilization, and acquisition of Knowledge among individuals within, or across, organizations. KM can also be defined from the Human resource management view as "any process or practice of creating, acquiring, capturing, sharing and using knowledge, wherever it resides, to enhance learning and performance in organizations" (Swan et al. 1999b).

Yang & Wan (2004) provide a comprehensive view of KM concept that explains all the stages involved. They define KM as "the process of collecting and identifying useful information (i.e. knowledge acquisition), transferring tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge (i.e. knowledge creation or transfer), storing the knowledge in the repository (i.e. organizational memory), disseminating itthrough the whole organization (i.e. KS), enabling employees to easily retrieve it (i.e. knowledge retrieval) and exploiting and usefully applying knowledge (i.e. knowledge leverage)" (Yang & Wan 2004: p595). This study argues that successful KM implementation should go beyond the operational side into social, human and organizational aspects to create individual commitment towards KM implementation.

1.9.3 Organizational Culture (sadaf)

A pattern of shared assumptions invented, discovered or developed by a given group as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, and that have worked well enough to be considered valid, and therefore to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems (Schein, 2010).

1.9.4 Knowledge sharing (asra)

"The transfer of knowledge between a knowledge provider and a knowledge seeker" (stonerock,2003)