OKLC 2004: Talking about knowledge with HR practitioners

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OKLC conference presentation

Talking about knowledge with HR practitioners

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  • 1. OKLC 2004 Talking about knowledge with Human Resource Practitioners Katrina Pritchard, Department of Organizational Psychology Birkbeck College, University of London
  • 2. Overview
    • Research Questions
    • About the study
    • Themes
    • An example: Legal Knowledge
    • Where next?
  • 3. Research Questions
    • How do HR practitioners talk about knowledge?
    • How do their descriptions of practice depict knowledge and knowing in action?
  • 4. Research Questions
    • How do HR practitioners talk about knowledge?
    • How do their descriptions of practice depict knowledge and knowing in action?
    • Why these questions?
    • there are many abstract classifications of types of knowledge
    • rather than applying these, turned it around - what emerges from participants descriptions?
  • 5. Research Questions
    • How do HR practitioners talk about knowledge?
    • How do their descriptions of practice depict knowledge and knowing in action?
    • Why HR practitioners?
    • a different organizational context from previous studies - professional work, few tangible outcomes, positioned as knowledge based
    • how do existing ideas apply in this context? what new questions arise?
  • 6. About the study
    • Semi-structured interviews with 16 HR practitioners from two organizations in London (a bank and a management consultancy) during late 2002
    • Interviews lasted approx. 1 hour and involved:
      • discussion of a 20 statements-test (I believe a HR professional should be….) completed beforehand
      • critical incident-style questioning about key events on HR projects with which they were involved
    • Template analysis involving data-driven coding and identification of themes relating to the research questions
  • 7. Themes Areas of knowledge Importance of knowledge Knowledge in practice Legal knowledge, best practice, basic HR knowledge, common sense knowing what will work. Confidence and credibility, experts and expertise Brainstorming, using trusted advisors, personal reflection, external networks, exposure to new ideas.
  • 8. Talking about legal knowledge
    • Can be positioned as technical and objective - the letter of the law
    • But different from lawyers
    • The skill/art of application
    • Use of judgement and importance of experience
    • Seen as valued by the organization and employees
    • Perceived as a complex, frequently changing - a difficult area - earns respect
    • Defines a unique contribution for HR professionals
    • Can be leveraged - used to persuade the business
  • 9. So what does this tell us?
    • Many different constructions of one area of knowledge - we need to be alert to this variety, differences and similarities
    • Different constructions may serve different purposes - we need to explore when, how and with what effect these are used
    • Talking about knowledge is a more complex issue than what has been made explicit and what remains tacit!
  • 10. Where next?
    • Currently planning my PhD studies to take forward the ideas and issues identified in this research
    • Extending breadth of research - HR professionals working in different sectors (including government, education, not-for-profit and commercial)
    • Extending depth of research - Participant observation in the HR department of an investment bank