Knowledge Management: Toward overcoming
                  dissatisfaction in the field

originate from the work of Ryle [14] who suggests that                KM Language
‘knowing what’ is the declarative knowle...
seen as a critical gap in the literature, which could in turn         therefore seem possible to state that context influe...
difficult to identify factors of Applying, Sharing, Storing and    their inclusion on the implicit biases of the researche...
papers; reports; informal research; and a job advert. The
    •    If common functions and enablers exist, are they
These biases would seem to be magnified in a comparison of
knowledge generation. Hall [44] sees motivation as        et al. [16]. However to bring congruence to the field, it would
This appears to be satisfied by the literature where authors such     encompasses and expands upon the work of Shanks et a...
the blockage in the flow between academic and practitioner                    manner in order to improve satisfaction and
highest return during the coding practice, this seemed to reflect
Motivation: The stimulus to act. This could be through                 [3] Rigby, D; Bilodeau, B (2007) Management tools a...
perspectives and their prescriptions for HRD, Journal of
European Industrial Training, 24(2/3/4) 65-93                   [...
[43] Hedlund, G (1994) A model of Knowledge Management
and the N-Form Corporation, Strategic management Journal,
Spring, 7...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5

Paris 09 Knowledge Management Identifying The Functions And Enablers For The Successful Coordination Of Organisational Knowledge Griffiths Morse


Published on

This is the first paper, of three, examining the Critical Success Factors of Knowledge management, leading to a new model for the field. This paper is being presented at the European KM Conference 09 in Paris, another paper is being delivered at UFHRD, Newcastle 09 the final paper will be delivered later in the year and is awaiting confirmation.

Published in: Education, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Paris 09 Knowledge Management Identifying The Functions And Enablers For The Successful Coordination Of Organisational Knowledge Griffiths Morse

  1. 1. Knowledge Management: Toward overcoming dissatisfaction in the field Griffiths, David A; Morse, Shona M lack of congruence between perceived value and actual performance. Abstract: Examining signals from practitioners and academics that suggest Knowledge Management (KM) to be under This appears to be echoed in the academic field where Smith performing, this paper undertakes research to determine [4] cites Fahey & Prusak, amongst several others, in potential causation. Issues of language, definition, literature demonstrating the growing concerns of theorists that KM is and lack of a common framework are identified as potential failing to deliver value. Mekhilef & Flock [5], in a synthesis of inhibitors to value creation. This leads to a meta-synthesis of 658 KM papers, signpost a potential critical gap in literature 287 pieces of literature that concludes KM to consist of four when they failed to identify a single common framework or functions and 12 enablers. As a result of these findings, a theory across six disciplines of Business & Management; definition of KM is offered. Further research into 71 KM Engineering; Decision Science; Computer Science; Medicine & models and frameworks suggests there to be a gap in literature Health and Social Science. Metaxiotis et al. [6] support this in meeting the findings of the initial meta-synthesis. The paper stating, ‘the main and accepted finding is that a codified, offers further conclusions that contribute to the general universally accepted framework has not been established for knowledge of the field. KM’ (p. 11). Keywords: Frameworks and Models; Knowledge Defining KM Management; Meta-synthesis; Organisational knowledge KM is acknowledged as difficult to define [6], with theorists Introduction offering alternatives such as: ‘Welcome to the most “successful” fuzzy idea in the history of ‘…a framework that builds on past experiences and management’ [1, p. 43] creates new mechanisms for exchanging and creating knowledge’ [7, p.78] This paper attempts to lay out for the reader issues surrounding and: the field of Knowledge Management (KM), building an argument that then informs enquiry objectives and ‘…the exploitation and development of the methodology for the research. knowledge assets of an organisation with a view to furthering the organisation’s objectives’ [6, Knowledge and its coordination appears to remain a priority Davenport & Prusak cited, p. 9] for organisations regardless of discipline/sector [2]. Yet evidence presented suggests the field to be affected by a lack of Some posit that the definition is situated according to discipline common language, definition and framework or model. This and/or sector [8]. Whilst Kulkarne et al. [9] suggest KM to be paper reports on an ongoing attempt to construct a meta- conditional according to a ‘personalisation strategy’ for tacit synthesis of the literature on and existing Frameworks for KM knowledge, or a ‘codification strategy’ for explicit knowledge. in organisations. Sarah & Haslett [10] suggest ‘Knowledge as a product’ and ‘Knowledge as a process’ and other authors [9] discuss the Though the value of knowledge and its coordination is widely management of knowledge or the management of knowledge accepted, low levels of investment of time and money and a workers. lack of motivation are suggested as contributing to a low satisfaction in KM as an effective management tool [2]. In a Yet others state that KM cannot be managed. Prusak [cited in 2006 survey of management tools utilised by 1221 global 11] could be seen to be contradicting work cited earlier with executives [3] KM ranked 22 out of 25 for satisfaction and Davenport in stating that ‘you cannot manage knowledge like received the lowest rating of all management tools within you cannot manage love, patriotism or your children’ (p. 45). respondents from large organisations. Though it ranked as the 8th most popular tool in European business, up from 15th in Hellstrom & Jacob [12] suggest that KM emerges from a 2004, it only received a 17% satisfaction rating. This suggests a process that mirrors the generation of knowledge. This suggests that KM could be based on what Holsapple [13] refers David Griffiths is a PhD candidate and associate lecturer on the MSc in  to as the ‘Primary’ types of knowledge: ‘Know What’, Management of Training and Development at The University of Edinburgh (e- descriptive knowledge; ‘Know How’, procedural knowledge; mail: ‘Know Why’, reasoning knowledge. This approach appears to Shona Morse is a lecturer at The University of Edinburgh on the MSc in Management of Training and Development (e-mail:
  2. 2. originate from the work of Ryle [14] who suggests that KM Language ‘knowing what’ is the declarative knowledge that provides an understanding of facts and ‘knowing how’ is the procedural The literature review conducted by Qureshi et al. [16] (Table knowledge that provides understanding of how to do things. If 1), when compared to the review conducted by Supyuenyong Hellstrom & Jacob are correct and KM emerges from the & Islam [17] (Table 2) suggests a potential issue of vocabulary, knowledge generation process, it would seem possible that a which could distort the understanding of KM. KM definition lies within a situated understanding of ‘What’, ‘How’ and ‘Why’ as suggested by Holsapple. Table 1 – Research findings Qureshi et al. Taken from Qureshi et al. [16] Garavan et al. [15] suggest KM to be generic, proposing it to be contextual according to the value placed on knowledge by aspects of organisation outcomes. This consideration of generic KM functions is explored in a limited literature review, encompassing the work of 6 studies, conducted by Qureshi et al. [16]. The authors examined research conducted between 1997 and 1999 to suggest that KM consists of five basic functions: Create; Collect; Organise; Deliver; Use. The literature, whilst limited in breadth, scale and cultural perspective, appears to provide a signpost toward a basic definition of KM. The work of Qureshi et al. is supported by a similar synthesis of literature carried out by Supyuenyong & Islam [17]. This Table 2 – Research findings Supyuenyong & Islam work, originating in Thailand, encompasses a more diverse, but Taken from Supyuenyong & Islam [17] still limited, review of 12 studies. Their research suggests four ‘sub-processes’ of KM, which would actually seem to consist of 6 individual processes: knowledge creation and acquisition; knowledge organisation and retention; knowledge dissemination; and knowledge utilisation. This appears to extend the work of Qureshi et al. through the addition of ‘retention’, which could also be reasonably defined as ‘storage’. This is a clear omission in the work of Qureshi et al. and provides an indicator of potential weaknesses in current research, where literature reviews lack value due to their insufficient breadth and depth. Gupta [18] continues this theme, providing a singular narrative research to suggest that The comparison demonstrates the variable of vocabulary KM consists of five key steps: Generation, Sharing, Adaption, utilised to discuss KM. These differences are minor compared Application and Modification. This could be seen as interesting with the findings of Mekhilef & Flock [5], who suggested 1317 due to the absence of ‘retention' and 'acquisition’. The author key words and phrases to be associated with the field as part of also defines ‘modification’ as the generation of new their research coding protocol. This could be an issue, for if knowledge. However, he fails to differentiate between the initiator and receiver do not share the same language there ‘knowledge creation’ and ‘the generation of new knowledge’. is a possibility that meaning could be lost in the sense giving This would seem to demonstrate the lack of ‘know what’ in and sense reading process [19]. This could therefore be seen as literature, which could detract from the effective transmission a contributing factor in the findings of Rigby & Bilodeau [3]. and development of ‘know how’. For if ‘know what’ is not clearly signposted, it would not seem possible to manipulate As suggested earlier, authors are attempting to establish the ‘what’ to develop ‘how’. research to explain the KM process, which appears to be pointing toward generic definitions that can be become Despite the wealth of definitions available it appears difficult to contextually embedded. However, current research would identify a succinct explanation for the KM process. It would seem to lack robustness, which could be what the field requires therefore seem feasible to suggest that this apparent lack of if solutions are to be offered to overcome practitioner clarity could contribute to confusion on the part of the dissatisfaction. practitioner, which could result in poor performance. It would also seem that the research of Qureshi et al. [16] and This lack of clarity stimulates further enquiry into the language Supyuenyong & Islam [17] demonstrate a potential flaw in used within the KM field. If KM is generic, as suggested by current literature: If Hellstrom [12] is correct and KM is a Garavan et al. [15] and progressed by Qureshi et al. [16], product of the knowledge creation process and Holsapple [13] Gupta [18] and Supyuenyong & Islam [17], KM should is correct in his identification of the primary types of presumably possess a common language. However, it is also knowledge, then there would appear to be a problem. Research identified as contextual [15; 8, in which case there may be a appears to clearly transmit the ‘why’, but appears to be falling significant barrier to a common vocabulary. short in defining the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of KM. This could be
  3. 3. seen as a critical gap in the literature, which could in turn therefore seem possible to state that context influences the KM contribute to poor performance. process, but it would not appear to be a hindrance to the discussion of common functions or enablers. KM Epistemology KM Enablers In reviewing the literature, it is apparent that an epistemological continuum exists between two extremes of ‘HR-Centric’ and The definition of KM appears to be diffuse and there seems to ‘Techno-Centric’ with a mid point being ‘Interactionist’. It be a variable in vocabulary that could further inhibit the would appear that these views could be interpreted as understanding of KM as a process. Predominantly, literature following: appears to discuss functions and processes. However it would seem necessary to investigate the enablers that make-up the Techno-Centric: Seemingly embedded within the view of process in what could be defined to be Critical Success Factors knowledge as an object. Focused on the storage and delivery (CSFs). of knowledge, with aspects of algorithmic knowledge generation emanating from the field of Artificial Intelligence. Jennex & Zakharove [23] conducted a synthesis of 15 CSF studies, encompassing 78 case studies and 100 organisational HR-Centric: Seemingly presented through the view of surveys, mainly from the late 1990s in North America, to knowledge as a process. Its main concern is the interaction of produce the following: people and the generation and storage of knowledge through socialisation. • Integrated technical infrastructure • A knowledge strategy that identifies users experience Interactionist: Observes the interface between people and • A common enterprise wide knowledge structure technology. Acknowledges the role of technology in creating • Motivation and commitment of users including value and expediting the transmission of knowledge, but also incentives and training recognises the need to coordinate the interaction between • Organisational culture process and object. • Senior Management support, including resources • Measures to assess the impacts of the Knowledge This suggests a question: Are epistemological views Management System indigenous to a particular discipline/sector within the • Clear goals and purpose of the Knowledge framework utilised by Mekhilef&Flock [5]? If so, does it Management System affect the enablers required to coordinate knowledge? • Learning Organisation • Contextual Issues Search retrieval and visualisation function of Knowledge Management System, support knowledge The research of Mekhilef & Flock [5] suggests that a common use framework for KM could be inhibited by contextual factors. • Work processes including knowledge capture and use However, their research demonstrates that 50 concepts were • Security an protection of knowledge shared between Social science, Medicine & Health and [24] Business & Management; 34 concepts were shared between Social Science and Engineering; and 2 were shared by all Azmi & Zairi [25] provide a synthesis of 15 authors published except Computer Science. This suggests that common between 1996 and 2001, predominantly from the Northern functions and enablers do exist, but that they could be inhibited Hemisphere, to suggest 9 CSFs: Training; Sharing; Culture; by perceptions of context. Transferring; Top-Management Support; Technology Infrastructure; Creating; Knowledge Strategy; Knowledge It would seem possible to overcome issues of context by Infrastructure. This work is interesting in that it appears to examining the basic function of knowledge creation. Tranfield suggest that Storing & Gathering and Application are not et al. [20] citing Gibbons, state, ‘knowledge is produced in the critical to the KM process. It is also interesting that ‘Training’ context of application’ (p. 212). Hori et al. [21] explore this is identified as a Critical Success Factor and yet there is little position, positing that the user determines the context, which in identification as to which aspect or to whom the training should turn determines the value of the process. Their work can be be applied. This would seem to warrant further discussion, as represented through the following formula: to whether training or learning should be considered a CSF, or is it a by product of the KM and knowledge creation process? Representational Context [artefacts] + Conceptual Context [existing in the mind] + Conley [26], a collaboration analyst with Deloitte, conducting Real World Context [situated application] = Value PhD research with Northern Illinois University, suggests 46 unspecified factors from literature and a further 83 unspecified This suggests context to be nothing more than an element of factors from research survey responses giving a total of 129 the KM process. A position galvanised by authors such as CSFs. Edwards & Rees [22] who discuss knowledge creation as a transaction between the person and the environment. They Further issues arise in the comparison of research between observe ‘every action as intrinsically connected with the Qureshi et al. [16] and Supyuenyong & Islam [17], and the context or situation in which it occurs’ (p. 155). It would findings of Jennex & Zakharove [23] where it would seem
  4. 4. difficult to identify factors of Applying, Sharing, Storing and their inclusion on the implicit biases of the researcher’ [20, p. Gathering, or Creating Knowledge. This would seem to point 208]. toward a lack of congruence in literature when discussing KM CSFs, which appears to further illustrate the diffuse views of Greenwood & Levin [31] offer an insight into the potential the process that exist in the field. failings of literature in fulfilling the primary knowledge need of ‘knowing how’, as suggested by Holsapple [13]. They suggest Creation, Training and Learning that for knowledge to be enabled, it needs to be understood for it to be applied in context: In discussing CSFs several authors identified Training or Learning as a key issue in the process [27; 23; 25]. It could be ‘The actor needs to make sense of the context to argued that this is a substitute for the knowledge creation enable appropriate actions. “knowing how” thus process, which is not identified by these authors as being implies knowing how in a given context in which critical to the overall KM process. appropriate actions emerge from contextual knowing’ (p. 51-2). Learning has been closely identified with the knowledge process: The authors appear to support the limitations of narrative based theory expressed by Tranfield et al. [20] in that practitioners ‘The recognition of one’s own need to learn, the should be treated as cogenerative partners in the research search for new knowledge, the test of that new process, especially where the research is focused on solving a knowledge in practical action, and the consolidation problem embedded in practice. of the whole exercise within the memory are all essential to complete learning’ [28, p. 9]. Tranfield et al. [20] posit that ultimately systematic evidence- based reviews increase the value of research and improve the Bhatt [29] argues that poor learning could impinge upon the flow between academics and practitioners: knowledge creation process, which again suggests a link between knowledge and learning. Jennex & Olfman [30] state ‘For academics, the reviewing process increases that for KM to improve business performance it is necessary to methodological rigour. For practitioner/managers, influence organisational learning in the pursuit of improved systematic review helps develop a reliable knowledge organisational memory. This is supported by [10, Sanchez & base by accumulating knowledge from a range of Heene cited] ‘Learning is a process which changes the state of studies’ (p. 220). knowledge of an individual or organisation’ (p. 5). Edward & Rees [22] succinctly state that ‘It is clear that managing This would seem to direct KM research toward a meta- behaviour, learning and knowledge cannot be separated from synthesis, given the issues of language discussed earlier in this one another’ (p.167). This would appear to give validity to the paper. parallel discussion of knowledge and learning when attempting to develop a KM solution. The literature suggests that it is the process that stimulates Enquiry objectives knowledge or learning, which would therefore seem to identify it as a product of the process as opposed to being an element of The foregoing evidence points toward an enquiry that cuts the process. This in turn seems to suggest training to be a through issues of vocabulary in search of a succinct and stimulus to that process. It would also seem that KM informs applicable definition of KM. This would appear to require an organisational training needs and contributes to the activities investigation into the primary functions of the KM process. that shape the learning process, but is not necessarily the Evidence also suggests there to be a gap in the provision of a appropriate tool for managing these processes. common framework for the KM process. This informs an enquiry to determine whether common enablers exist across In an attempt to simplify the field, this paper will separate KM discipline/sectors, which could then facilitate such a from the activities of organisational Learning and Training and framework. This enquiry will attempt to address the following Development, to which it appears to contribute in a reciprocal questions through a systematic evidence-based literature relationship. review: Limitations of the literature • Is it possible to offer a clear definition of the functions of the KM process? Much of the literature in the field appears to be based on • Is there a dominant epistemological view of KM? narrative review, which at times is blended with qualitative or • If there is a dominant epistemological view of KM, quantitative studies. There seems to be little in the form of does it have an effect on the functions and enablers of systematic, evidence-based review, which is a cogenerative the KM process? method designed to develop a depth of evidence based in both • Are there enablers common to the 6 discipline/sectors theory and practice. The value of the narrative approach is of KM as utilised in the enquiry by Mekhilef & criticised for ‘being singular descriptive accounts of the Flock? contributions made by writer’s in the field, often selected for
  5. 5. papers; reports; informal research; and a job advert. The • If common functions and enablers exist, are they literature was then hand coded using 286 descriptors. stable through time, or are they evolving with the apparent emergence of modern KM? The research could be open to debate if a process was not put in place to minimise the possibility of dissonance, beyond that Methodology of breadth and scale of literature [33]. Therefore, where search engines, such as Google Scholar, Google and The Brint This paper develops descriptive research through a systematic, Institute Portal, provided multiple returns, a random number evidence-based, review of literature in order to extend the generator was employed [34]. This approach was used to general body of scientific knowledge. select 50% of the articles from any given search page and was employed for approximately 33% of the study; this as much of Tranfield et al. [20] posit that a systematic, evidence-based the academic literature was researched through academic literature review is needed in order to speak to the needs of the bibliographic databases, encompassing a broad variety of academic and practitioner and should include a variety of discipline/sectors, which required the articles to be handpicked. sources such as: books, articles, blogs, company website statements, academic articles and conference proceedings. The Results were screened to filter returns of insufficient length or authors state that this form of review differs from the detail; this was a particular issue when accessing blogs and traditional narrative review in the manner in which it rigorously bulletin boards. Literature was also deemed inappropriate if it approaches the literature resources. This moves beyond did not directly address the utilisation of knowledge for breadth and scale to encompass a transparent scientific organisational value. approach that ‘aims to minimise bias through exhaustive literature searches of published and unpublished studies’ (p. Search returns often straddled discipline/sectors. Where this 209). Tranfield et al. propose that results provided through this was the case, the primary focus of the article was used for method of review increase the reliability and robustness of determining the discipline/sector. findings, surpassing that of the singular narrative review process. A review was conducted after 50 articles had been coded and an anomaly was identified, being a recurring coding that was A scoping study was conducted as part of the dissertation phase not acknowledged in the scoping study, the descriptor, of the University of Edinburgh Master of Science programme ‘Knowledge Structure’. This was addressed in the coding in the Management of Training and Development. This study, protocol and a 16th factor was established. The coding encompassing over 60 pieces of academic literature, suggested descriptors for the Functions and Enablers are detailed in 15 potential success enablers required for the field of KM. Appendix 2. Table 3 highlights the findings of the scoping study, which provided the platform for the coding protocol required for the The lead researcher solely conducted the coding of the meta- meta-synthesis. synthesis over a period of 92 days. It could be said that research conducted in this manner could expose the findings to It was decided to utilise the six-discipline/sector framework manipulation in order to fit a specific hypothesis. Subjecting formulated by Mekhilef & Flock [5] to populate the literature the analysis to a single reading could also expose the findings review. It was believed that by using this framework it would to errors, which, if too great, could seriously affect the be possible to extend existing research and allow for a direct outcomes of the study. Therefore an independent Research comparison of findings to determine the potential for a Assistant was employed to sample 10% of the study to common framework through the identification of common determine validity and error rate. This secondary review functions and enablers. To address potential issues of returned 3 factors that could not be identified by the reader and dissonance, literature used in the scoping study, that could have 1 factor that had not been included in the initial findings. This been used to ‘fit’ the meta-synthesis to the preliminary translated to an error rate of +0.30% and -0.911%. findings, was excluded from the next research phase. Finally there was a need to distil the findings of the study to A minimum of 40 pieces of literature were targeted for each determine whether results of the investigation were enablers or discipline/sector with a time period from 1900 to present day, functions of KM. To determine this a simple test was devised: to investigate whether findings were evolutionary or stable If findings could be distilled to individual enablers, they were through time. In total 287 pieces of literature were used to considered to be functions. If not they were determined to be populate the study. Continental culture was also taken into enablers. Thus, Knowledge Creation would be seen as a consideration, with a decision taken that the review should not function as it can be distilled down to enablers such as 'What is force findings through equal representation, but that effort known', 'Extending what is known', 'Motivation', 'Context' and should be made to ensure that the search criteria included 'Reflection'; this is expanded upon later in this article. continental indicators. This decision was taken to address cultural differences that can effect KM implementation [32]. Table 3 – Scoping Study Taken from MSc in Management of Training and Development The study was populated with literature accessed via academic Scoping Study and public search engines, using 62 search terms, and included: Academic peer reviewed articles; blogs; bulletin boards; presentations; newspaper and magazine articles; books; white
  6. 6. These biases would seem to be magnified in a comparison of base level research data. The Techno-Centric view produces 1 article that refers to all 16 factors, equating to 2% of literature. The dominant Interactionist view produces 13, or 10% of the literature. This apparent disparity between the two views is enhanced upon examining the number of articles that refer to at least 90%, a range of 13-15, factors. The Techno-Centric view returned 0%. The Interactionist view returned 18%. This appears to suggest that the Techno-Centric view of the world could affect the performance of the field through its failure to transmit factors valued in the literature as a whole. Extended findings The analysis of the literature appears to demonstrate a gap in the ‘know what’ aspect of argument development. This can be evidenced through areas, such as ‘creating Knowledge’, where authors have stated that the process is taken for granted [1]. Authors such as Amidon & Davies [35] and Nonaka [36], amongst others acknowledge the importance of knowledge generation to the KM process. However, there appear to be key enablers that need to be discussed if the ‘know what’ is to progress to ‘know how’. These would appear to include: Initial Findings • What is known - Roth [37], Kulkarne et al. [9], Armstrong [38] and Antonacopoulou [28] amongst The table of findings can be found in Appendix 1. others have identified the need for pre-existing knowledge in the generation process. Existing Common factors do appear to exist across discipline/sectors. knowledge or learning resources bring recognition of The 16 factors and enablers proposed by this study are meaning to the process of enquiry into new learning exhibited in all discipline/sectors, with a situated frequency or knowledge [28]. ‘The role of knowledge in the range of +38% to -49%, as detailed in Appendix 1.1. learning process comprises drawing connections between what is already known and what may be KM appears to be predominantly an Interactionist field, with discovered’ [9, p. 19]. 45% of literature supporting this view. Business & Management is the exception, where a HR-centric view • Extending what is known - Enquiry is supported by pervades through 69% of the literature. many authors as being important to knowledge generation [27; 9; 39]. Antonacopoulou [28] suggests The view of KM is created in the main by narrative literature, that enquiry is needed to evolve existing knowledge to with only 1% of the literature utilising a form of meta- apply in new contexts. Cook & Brown [40] support synthesis. Antonacopoulou, arguing that to progress knowledge to knowing it is essential to engage in enquiry, which Only 3% of literature refers to all 16 factors identified in the they define as challenging existing knowledge to study, with an average of 62% or 10 factors mentioned in any advance an answer, solution or resolution given piece of literature. • Reflection - Authors suggest that reflection exists in In discipline/sectors with a strong Techno-Centric view of the the knowledge generation process [41; 42; 10; 39]. world there appears to be a lack of focus on the ‘human’ Sarah & Haslett [10] observe reflection as a challenge aspects that can affect the KM process. This is demonstrated in for organisations in legitimising the knowledge and Medicine & Health, Decision Science and Computer science learning process: ‘For any learning or knowledge- when compared against the HR-centric view of Business & creation to occur, there must be a space and time for Management. For example, 71% of Business & Management evaluation and reflection’ (p. 9). Hedlund [43] states acknowledges the need for ‘Motivation’, compared with 27% that reflection is essential to the knowledge process as in Medicine & Health, 36% in decision Science and 23% in it describes the interaction that occurs between Computer Science. Similar results can be observed with articulation and internalisation. ‘Culture’ and ‘Organisation Structure’. However the bias is reversed when observing a similar comparison of ‘Knowledge • Context – This was discussed earlier in the paper. Structure’, which achieves low recognition in Business & Management when compared to Medicine & Health, Decision • Motivation – Hall [44], Smith [4], Bhalla & Lampel science and Computer science. [32] amongst others support Motivation as a CSF for
  7. 7. knowledge generation. Hall [44] sees motivation as et al. [16]. However to bring congruence to the field, it would being more important than the capture storage and appear necessary to align definitions with the findings of this socialisation of knowledge. Smith [4] suggests that if research. Therefore the following is suggested: organisations fail to engage individuals in a manner that stimulates their intrinsic motivation, they will KM influences the coordination of People, Technology, labour to produce relationships contracted by Finance and Time to develop value-based solutions for the Use, compliance, which will not produce the knowledge Interaction, Storing & Gathering and Creation of Knowledge as needed for inimitable competitive advantage. an organisational resource. The analysis of the literature demonstrates that enablers of Discussion know what’ are frequently missed. This is demonstrated where ‘creating knowledge’ is identified in only 55% of the literature This research cannot determine importance, or value of the with a discipline/sector variable of +5% and -20%. Where factors. It only reflects the frequency of reference within ‘Creating knowledge’ is identified, Reflection is only referred literature. This transmits a perceived importance or value, but to 47% of the time and Motivation 42%. This would seem to is not conclusive. Many weaker signals could suffer from a suggest a failure in the literature to develop aspects of ‘know lack of understanding on the part of the authors as to the what’ thereby hindering the development of ‘know how’. This negative effects attributable to their absence from the KM could be interpreted as a possible causation for the poor process. However, there would appear to be a differentiation in performance of KM in the work place. the perceived importance, which is evidenced within the ‘Range’ findings, where there are variables according to To challenge this assertion 10% of literature that identified discipline/sector and epistemological view. This suggests that ‘knowledge creation’ was re-analysed, literature being selected the value of functions and enablers will vary according the by random number generator, analysis demonstrated that 64% situated needs of the discipline/sector. of literature addressed all the enablers listed above. However, 0% discussed the ‘know how’ of ‘knowledge creation’, where The analysis of the literature allows us to determine the direction was given on how to assemble and utilise the enablers existence of the identified functions and enablers. However, to create value for the organisation. This appears to validate limited representation of literature from outside the Northern McElroy’s [1] assertion that the process is taken for granted. Hemisphere will not allow for an assertion as to their validity outside of this area. This accepted; the literature represented KM definition suggests the findings to be constant regardless of continental context. In distilling the findings of the research the following are put forward as functions: The research cannot offer a conclusion with regard to the validity of the findings in relation to specific sectors. The • investigation was designed to identify common factors as a Using Knowledge generalisation of the field and issues relating to specific sectors • Interacting fell beyond the scope of this study. • Storing & Gathering • Creating Knowledge The findings could not determine whether factors were stable through time. There would seem to be indicators that this The following are then proposed to be enablers using the same could be true, however, there was too little literature identified methodology: pre-1990 for an assertion to be made in this area. • Catalysts (People, Technology, Finance, Time) The analysis failed to adequately interrogate the literature for • What is known ‘know how’. Whilst the investigation appears to demonstrate • Extending what is known the lack of depth in the area of ‘know what’, it is not possible • Reflection to determine the extent of ‘know how’ in the literature; beyond • Context the evidence of the 10% sampling and the assertion that • without sufficient ‘know what’ it would seem difficult to Motivation develop valuable ‘know how’. • Culture • Organisational Structure Reflection and resolution: • Space • Transmitting Knowledge content value, was identified as a potential element • Artefacts during the coding process, but was dismissed as it is • Knowledge Structure determined by context, as demonstrated earlier by Tranfield et al. [20], Edwards & Rees [22] and Hori et al. [21]. This can be demonstrated through the example of ‘Creating Knowledge’ used earlier. 'Process', was noted as a reoccurring theme during coding, which stimulated debate during review meetings. It is the It would therefore seem to give weight to the succinct conclusion of this study that process exists as an artefact of definitions of KM discussed earlier by authors such as Qureshi organisational activities aligned against strategy and policy.
  8. 8. This appears to be satisfied by the literature where authors such encompasses and expands upon the work of Shanks et al. as DeLong [45] posit that, ‘knowledge that is explicit is easily Rasli simplified the language of Bacharach and Shanks et al. to codified and can be shared independent of its human source, or assess Models and Frameworks based on it can be embedded in processes or systems’ (p. 83). ‘Comprehensiveness’, ‘Correctness’, ‘Usefulness’, ‘Clarity’ and ‘Conciseness’. Based on the initial findings of the sample, Issues of research bias, such as combinations of qualitative and it was decided the simplest approach to evaluating frameworks quantitative research were ignored as being non-essential to the or models that displayed all 16 Functions or Enablers would be study. The objective of the study was to investigate the type of to apply Bacharach’s criteria of How, What, Why and When in research being conducted. The findings clearly demonstrated conjunction with that of Rasli. the weight and influence of singular narrative research and therefore it was not deemed necessary to differentiate the study Findings further. Of the models reviewed 1.16%, being 1 model, discussed all 16 Extended research based on findings Functions and Enablers. However, it failed the secondary test in that it was found to be mainly descriptive, failing By extending the meta-synthesis to encompass KM models and Bacharach’s test, and lacking in Comprehensiveness and frameworks, it is possible to compare the findings of the Clarity, this as many of the factors were discretely recognised research against existing KM solutions. This aspect of the in the text, but not represented in the visual representation of enquiry evaluated 71 Models and Frameworks from 1996 to the model, which fails Rasli’s test. Therefore, it would appear, 2008. Continuing to employ the evidence-based methodology, based on these criteria, that 0% of models reflected the findings Models and Frameworks were analysed for the existence of the of the initial research. 16 Functions and Enablers identified in the first part of this research. Models of KM based on computer programming The most frequently represented Factors and Enablers were processes were dismissed from this analysis. Resources with 86%; Context 85%; Transmit with 82%; and Interaction with 80%. The least frequent were Spaces with Of the 71 models 55% originated from peer reviewed journals 17%; Organisational Structure with 31%; Motivation with with the remaining coming from other sources as detailed in the 45%; and Culture with 55%. methodology. The search parameters are detailed in the methodology, with this search using 2 search terms. The In total 721 Functions and Enablers were identified with an search returned 45 generic models, and 26 situated models with average of 10.15 factors being visible in any given model or 30% of models originating from Europe, 34% from north framework. This would seem to support the findings of the America, 7% from Australia, 22% from Asia; 3% from South initial meta-synthesis research. America; 1% from India and 3% from Africa. The search returned 45 generic models and 26 discipline/sector During an initial sampling of 10 Models and Frameworks an specific models. The average of 10.15 factors remained the issue of clarity and redundancy was discovered; where the same regardless of whether the model was generic or models failed to display all of the functions and enablers contextualised according to discipline/sector. discussed in the supporting text, or issues of redundancy where, for example, models highlighted issues of Discussion communication and conversation [46]. It was therefore decided that criteria needed to be established to identify an It would seem that there are common functions and enablers effective construct in the event that a Model or Framework did that unify the field, which appears to suggest support for a identify all 16 Functions and Enablers. common KM framework. However, there would seem to be little evidence to support the existence of an existing Bacharach [47] states that an effective theoretical model needs framework that meets the criteria for a valid theoretical model. to address issues of Falsifiability, Utility, Variables, Constructs This would seem to suggest the need for a new framework that and Relationships. The author also suggests that an effective meets the criteria for the evaluation of such a model and in model must transmit answers to the questions of ‘how’, ‘what’, doing so address the gap in literature identified by Mekhilef & ‘why’ and ‘when’. Bacharach also criticises theoretical models Flock [5]. for being narrative in approach, which he believes translates to a one-sided description that focuses on the question of ‘what’. There could be issues of interpretation or language such as the ‘The primary goal of theory is to answer the question of how, ‘Use’ or ‘Creating knowledge’ process suggesting the when, and why, unlike the goal of description, which is to existence of ’What is known’. However, where this is the case answer the question of what’ (p. 498). This would appear to 15% of models still fail to acknowledge any of these factors. echo the criticisms of current KM literature highlighted earlier Similarly, where ‘Interaction’ could be interpreted as in the paper. Bacharach’s criteria is supported by Shanks et ‘Transmission’, there is still a 6% shortfall in the models. al. [48], who state that in order for a model to provide an appropriate representation of the field to which it is providing a Peer reviewed models provided an average of 10.65 factors per lens, it should address ‘accuracy’, ‘completeness’, be ‘conflict- model, or 66.56%, compared to 9.56 factors, or 59.75%, of free’ and there should be ‘no redundancy’. Rasli [49] other models. This suggests that peer reviewed models and developed a framework, founded on the work of Bacharach, to frameworks are more complete, but it also appears to confirm specifically investigate a KM framework. The framework also
  9. 9. the blockage in the flow between academic and practitioner manner in order to improve satisfaction and suggested earlier. performance. • It would appear that there is justification for the ‘Creating knowledge’ is represented in 72% of the research. development of a KM model that addresses the gaps However, 75% of this number failed to highlight all the factors identified in this research. of knowledge creation discussed earlier in this paper. This • The findings would seem bias toward Northern would seem to reinforce earlier findings that suggest the field Hemisphere research and practice. Therefore ongoing to be deficient in the demonstration of ‘know how’. Bacharach research will be required if the findings of this paper [47] questions the validity of any theoretical model or are to be supported for the Southern Hemisphere. framework that fails to address ‘know how’, suggesting models of this ilk to be narrative and lacking in value. This paper set out to investigate the field of KM and delivered a view that suggested a lack of satisfaction on the part of the Of the 28% of models that failed to recognise ‘Creating practitioner. It also delivered a view that pointed toward a gap knowledge’ as a part of the KM process, 45% also failed to in the literature and a blockage in the flow between academic acknowledge the existence of ‘What is known’ or ‘Extending and practitioner. KM has been demonstrated to be burdened by what is known’. This would seem to demonstrate a critical gap an uncommon language and as a result suffers from a lack of in the literature when considering ‘Know what’, which is seen definition and focus for the process. by Bacharach [47] as being another essential criteria for a valid theoretical model. A comprehensive evidence-based review of 287 pieces of literature from 6 discipline/sectors and 71 Models and The research represents a Northern Hemisphere bias and Frameworks has produced findings that support the initial therefore cannot determine the validity of the findings for hypothesis relating to the field. Southern hemisphere organisations. However, the initial findings would suggest the research to be valid regardless of The field has been demonstrated as mainly Interactionist in geographical location. The research did not collect enough outlook. It has been shown to be lacking in value-based information to ascertain the validity of the models for research and has exposed potential issues in the way in which individual discipline/sectors discussed earlier in this paper. It theorists are used to promote the narrative view of the author. could be said that the 63% of generic models provide a fair representation to suggest that these findings would be valid The findings have suggested a potential definition of the regardless of discipline/sector. knowledge coordination process that would seem to provide a platform from which to enter the field for further testing. This Conclusion evidence-based definition is presented in an attempt to clarify the field and improve understanding of the functions that make The following conclusions are offered as a result of the up the knowledge coordination process. Evidence has also research findings: been presented that suggests there to be 16 common functions and enablers that are shared by the 6 discipline/sectors in this • The field is would benefit from a simplified definition investigation. There would also seem to be a gap within of KM. The findings appear to demonstrate that there current KM Models and Frameworks in identifying these are common functions and enablers that unite functions and enablers, which would seem to suggest the need discipline/sectors and as such there is scope for an for the development of a common KM framework or model. overarching definition of KM. This definition can be contextualised for specific sectors, but the message of Appendix 1 KM would remain the constant. Research synthesis – Total findings • KM appears to be an Interactionist field. As such it would seem important for authors to consider the tensions between Human Resources and technology. There would also seem to be a need for the Techno- Centric view to acknowledge factors external to technology in the KM process. • There appears to be a need for evidence-based research in the field. This approach appears to improve the value of research and stimulate the flow between practitioners and academics. • Further research, specifically enquiry within organisations, is needed to establish value on the part of the practitioner. This will extend knowledge of functions and enablers and allow for the identification of potential issues within the findings. It will also allow for a comparison of actual practice in a focused setting against the representation within the literature. It is suggested that the findings are developed into a format that transmits the process in a clear and concise
  10. 10. highest return during the coding practice, this seemed to reflect research findings more clearly. Creating knowledge: The process of either extending existing knowledge through combination or generating new knowledge. This refers to indicators in the literature that speak to the need for knowledge generation to be part of the KM remit. However, as is discussed later, knowledge generation requires other factors and whilst acknowledged in its own right within the coding, there is cross over in theoretical terms with the factor of ‘Extending what is known’. What is known: Refers to that which already exists; encompasses explicit and tacit forms internal and external, embedded within people and artefacts. It is differentiated from ‘artefacts’ through its utilisation, such as through knowledge creation, as opposed to the act of designing an artefact; through codification, in physical or virtual media or products, or by being embedded in services or processes. Extending what is known: The process of problem solving, where ‘what is known’, within the context of the individual, group or organisation, is insufficient to resolve the problem. Through enquiry, utilising internal or external sources, ‘what is known’ is extended through combination with other ‘knowns’. There could be said to bean issue with extending knowledge, this as the process itself must indicate the existence of basic knowledge to allow for extension. However, this factor indicates the existence of specific issues of new knowledge adaption or formulation through problem solving. Appendix 1.1 Catalysts: This descriptor refers to key issues that appear to Research synthesis – Range of findings stimulate KM functions and enablers: Time – actual time allocated by the organisation for KM objectives and processes; Finance – budgetary resources; People – Human Resources either acquired or developed by the organisation to fulfil knowledge needs; Technology – Technology enablers designed to provide storage of, access to, transmission of and extension of ‘what is known’, and spaces for virtual interaction. Transmit: The ability to communicate knowledge in an organisation, verbally, visually and textually. This can be communications in both active and passive form. The basis of this factor exists in Polanyi’s [19] definition of ‘Sense Giving’ and ‘Sense Reading’. Gathering and Storing: The act of acquiring and storing knowledge for later use. This can take the form of organisational as well as human and technological memory, and can be relevant to internal and external sources. Appendix 2 Coding Descriptors Context: Relates to the context within which the KM activity is situated. Context appears to be the bedrock of the KM process Changes have been made to the descriptors as part of the and, as per Tranfield et al. [20] and Hori et al. [21], will evolution of the research from the scoping study phase. Where determine the content of knowledge stores, the application of this has occurred it has been in order to bring clarity to the what is known, the gathering of knowledge, the sharing of field. For example: ‘Creating Knowledge’ was given the knowledge and the manner in which knowledge is extended. descriptor ‘cognition’ during the scoping study, which could Context can be determined by discipline/sector or sector, but drive interpretation toward fields such as cognitive psychology. can also be focused through organisational vision, strategy and Therefore, it was decided to utilise terminology that emerged policy. from practice; In this case ‘Creating knowledge’ provided the
  11. 11. Motivation: The stimulus to act. This could be through [3] Rigby, D; Bilodeau, B (2007) Management tools and trends organisational leadership, a knowledge champion or reward 2007, A survey from Bain and Company. Retrieved: 17th June and incentive structures to induce knowledge transactions 2008. between Human Resources and the environment. and_Trends_2007.pdf Interact: The need for interaction to stimulate the use, extension, sharing and transmission of knowledge. This can be [4] Smith, PAC (2003) Successful knowledge management: an internal or external process that takes place in physical or The importance of relationships, Invited paper – Universidad virtual spaces and encompasses explicit and tacit enablers of Central de Chile. Retrieved: 2nd February 2008. knowledge. Stewart, T (1998) Intellectual Capital: The new wealth of Culture: The values and ideology of the internal and external organisations, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London environment that influences the situated KM process. [5] Mekhilef, M; Flock, C (2006) Knowledge Management: A Organisational structure: The organisational architecture that multidisciplinary survey. In: Exploiting the knowledge represents the division of labour. economy: Issues, applications, case studies (Ed, Cunningham, P; Cunningham, M), IOS Press, Amsterdam. Spaces: The situated location of the organisation in relation to external knowledge assets that will assist in enabling the [6] Metaxiotis, K; Engazakis, K; Psarras, J (2005) Exploring exchange and extension of what is known. It also applies to the the world of Knowledge management: agreements and virtual and physical spaces within an organisation and the disagreements in the academic/practitioner community, manner in which they facilitate the functions of KM. Journal of knowledge management, 2005 9(2) 6-18 Using knowledge: Refers to the application of what is known, [7] Kakabadse, NK; Kakabadse, A; Kouzmin, A (2003) including extended knowledge, in the organisation context. Reviewing the knowledge management literature: Towards a taxonomy, Journal of Knowledge Management, 7(4) 75-91 Artefacts: Refers to knowledge assets that exist in representational form within an organisation. For example: [8] Alavi, N; Leidner, D (1999) Knowledge management physical text; digital text; processes; patents; products; services; systems: emerging views and practices from the field, blogs; databases; stories. ‘What is known’ is differentiated proceedings of the 32nd Hawaii international conference on from an artefact in that an artefact is external to a person or system science. Retrieved: 22nd October 2008 culture and acts as a representation of what is known. .1999.772754 Review: Relates to the act of reflection, which is seen as being part of the process of creating knowledge. However, this could [9] Kulkarni, UR; Ravindran, S; Freeze, R (2006) A be seen as too narrow a description within the field of KM. It knowledge management success model: Theoretical has therefore been extended to encompass review. This can be development and empirical validation, Journal of management interpreted as the reflective aspect of a cognitive process, but information systems, 23(3), 309-347 also as a formal or informal process of evaluation of the KM process in part or as a whole. [10] Sarah, R & Haslett, T (2003) Learning is a process which changes the state of knowledge of an individual or Organising knowledge: Refers to the architecture of organisation’. Monash University Working Paper, 72/03 knowledge structure within an organisation that indicates December, 1-14. Retrieved: 16th February 2008. where knowledge is located; how it is located; how it is indexed; frameworks for its individual codification and its papers/2003/wp72-03.pdf systematisation within a whole. [11] Schutt, P (2003) The post Nonaka knowledge Acknowledgment: The authors wish to thank Jeff Haywood, management, Journal of universal computer science, 9(6) Brian Martin, Serge Koukpaki and the staff of the MSc in 451-462 Management of Training and Development at The University of Edinburgh for their contribution to this research. [12] Hellstrom, T; Jacob, M (2003) Knowledge Management without goals? Evaluation of knowledge management References programmes, Evaluation, 9(55) 55-72 [1] McElroy, MW (2000) The new Knowledge Management, [13] Holsapple, CW (2004) Handbook on knowledge Knowledge and innovation: Journal of the Knowledge management: Knowledge Matters, Birkhauser, Berlin Management Consortium International, 1(1), 43-67 [14] Ryle, G (1949) The concept of the mind, University of [2] Rigby, D; Gillies, C (2000). Making the most of Chicago press, Chicago management tools and techniques: a survey from Bain and Company, Strategic Change Journal , 9, 269-274 [15] Garavan, TN; Gunnigle, P; Moley, M (2000) Contemporary HRD research: a triarchy of theoretical
  12. 12. perspectives and their prescriptions for HRD, Journal of European Industrial Training, 24(2/3/4) 65-93 [29] Bhatt, GD (2000) Information dynamics, learning and knowledge creation in organizations, The Learning [16] Qureshi, S; Briggs, RO; Hlupic, V (2006) Value creation Organization Journal, 7(2) 89-98 from intellectual capital: convergence of knowledge mangement and collaboration in the intellectual bandwidth [30] Jennex, ME; Olfman, L (2004) Assessing knowledge model, Group decision and negotiation, 15(3) 197-220 management success/effectiveness models. Proceedings of the 37th Hawaii international conference on system sciences. [17] Supyuenyong, V; Islam, N (2006) Knowledge Retrieved: 18th February 2008. management architecture: building blocks and their relationships, IEEE PICMT 2006 technology management for arnumber=1265571 the global future, 1210-1219 [31] Greenwood, DJ; Levin, M (2005) Reform of the social [18] Gupta, KS (2008) A comparative analysis of knowledge sciences and of universities through action research. In: The sharing climate, Knowledge and process management, 15(3) sage handbook of qualitative research (Eds. Denzin, NK; 186-195 Lincoln, YS), Third edition, Sage publications, California, p. 33-64 [19] Polanyi, M (1969) Knowing and Being. In: Essays by Michael Polanyi, (Ed. Marjorie Grene),University of Chicago, [32] Bhalla, A; Lampel, J (2007) Let’s get natural: the Chicago discourse of community and the problem of transferring practices to knowledge management, Management Decision [20] Tranfield, D; Denyer, D; Smart, P (2003) Towards a Journal, 45(7) 1069-1082 methodology for developing evidence-informed management knowledge by means of systematic review, British journal of [33] Kunda, Z (1992) Can dissonance theory do it all? management, 14 207-222 Psychological inquiry, 3(4), 337-9 [21] Hori, K; Kakakaji, K; Yamamoto, Y; Ostwald, J (2004) [34] Organic perspectives of knowledge management: Knowledge evolution through a cycle of knowledge liquidisation and [35] Amidon, D; Davies, BE (2004) Get in the zone, crystallisation, Journal of universal computer science, 10(3) Knowledge Management Magazine, October 2004, 8(2). 252-261 Retrieved: 1 October 2007 sid.0/articleid.89A2E03A-AC37-47FD-A604-43834E43A7B9/ [22] Edward, T; Rees, C (2006) International Human eTitle.Entovation_get_in_the_zone/qx/display.htm resource Management: Globalization, national systems and multinational companies, Pearson Education Limited, London, [36] Nonaka, I (1991) The knowledge creating company, p151-167 Harvard Business review, November-December 96-104 [23] Jennex, ME; Zakharova, I (2005) Knowledge [37] Roth, J (2003) Enabling knowledge creation: Learning management critical success factors,, from an R+D organisation, Journal of knowledge Retrieved: 12th October 2008 management, 7(1) 32-48 strategy/str110.html [38] Armstrong, M (2006) A handbook Of Human Resource [24] Management Practice, 10th edition, Cambridge University Press, Great Britain [25] Azmi, Mal; Zairi, M (2005) Knowledge Management: A proposed taxonomy, Bradford University working paper [39] Argyris, C (1982) Reasoning, learning and action: series, 05/31, June. Retrieved: 12th November 2008 Individual and organisational, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco papers/2005/Booklet_05-31.pdf [40] Cook, SDN; Brown, JS (1999) Bridging epistemologies: The generative dance between organisational knowledge and [26] (2008) organisational knowing, Organisational science, 10(4), 381-400 [27] Chowdhury, N; Ahmed, M (2005) Critical Success Factors affecting Knowledge Management Implementation in [41] Clegg, S (2003) Globalising the intelligent organisation. Oil & Gas companies: A Comparative study of four In Research and knowledge at work, (ed. J, Garrik; L, corporations. Retrieved: 18th November 2008. Rhodes), Routledge, Florence [42] Stewart, T (1998) Intellectual capital: The new wealth [28] Antonacopoulou EP. (2006) Modes of Knowing in of organizations, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London Practice: The Relationship between Learning and Knowledge Revisited. In: The Future of Knowledge Management (Eds. Renzl B; Matzler K; Hinterhuber H). Palgrave, London.
  13. 13. [43] Hedlund, G (1994) A model of Knowledge Management and the N-Form Corporation, Strategic management Journal, Spring, 73-90 [44] Hall, H (2001) Social exchange for knowledge exchange. Paper presented at University of Leicester Management centre. Retrieved: 20th February 2008. [45] DeLong, DW (2004) Lost Knowledge: Confronting the threat of an aging workforce, Oxford University Press, United States [46] Kok, JA (2002) A framework for knowledge management in order to gain a competitive advantage, Second SLOSALL Conference: The Rhythm of Change - Dancing to a New Tune. Retrieved: 2nd January 2009. 2002/0206.pdf [48] Shanks, G; Tansley, E; Weber, R (2003) using ontology to validate conceptual models, Communications of the ACM, 46(10), 85-89 [47] Bacharach, SB (1989) Organizational theories: some criteria for evaluation, Academy of management review, 14(4) 496-515 [49] Rasli, Md (2004) Knowledge management framework for the Malaysian constructing companies, IRPA Project No. 74320. Retrieved 18th December 2008.