Alexildo Vaz Ryzhonkov Vasily_KM What are the most influential theoreticians 2011


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Alexildo Vaz Ryzhonkov Vasily_KM What are the most influential theoreticians 2011

  1. 1. WHAT ARE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL THEORETICIANS IN KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT FROM THE PRACTIONERS’ PERSPECTIVE? Alexildo Velozo Vaz Reference Center for Business Intelligence (CREATE) COPPE/UFRJ Block I 2000 room (I-014c - subsoil - Technology Center of the UFRJ Island from Fund€o - Rio de Janeiro - 21945-970 Vasily Ryzhonkov IMIM, Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, Politecnico di Milano ABSTRACT Theory and practice are always together in knowledge management. The professionals who work in this field of study are not restrained to the practice of the characteristic processes used by knowledge management; they search in new studies and theories elements able to help them in the improvement of such processes. This article intends to identify who is the most influential theorist in knowledge management, and which is his or her most impressive contribution from the point of view of knowledge management practitioners. The results were acquired through discussion groups in communities of practice in LinkedIn site by knowledge management practitioners. The information provided by community members was validated by its comparison to H Index, which regards the amount of quotations received by an article from 1996 to 2011, for scientific articles listed in Scopus database, from each of the theorists mentioned by the practitioners. To sum up, 23 practitioners mentioned 38 scientists and theorists. The conclusion is that the perception of community members is correct for the two scientists with highest H-Index: Davenport and Nonaka. Keywords: knowledge management, theorists, Scopus, LinkedIn, H-Index-1-
  2. 2. 1. INTRODUCTION Knowledge Management is a young field of study and application. Although the concept of knowledge has been studied for a long time - taxonomies, for example, set out the concerns of Aristotle (2010) - its application and the processes involved, what concerns the organizations improvement and personnel, dating from a few decades. From the seminal works of Polanyi (1966) on tacit knowledge, an immense set of knowledge was formed about how the knowledge can be created, identified, classified, disseminated, reused, improved and integrated to the organizational culture and business world in order to create competitive advantage and make them more productive. During this period also came a new kind of professional, dedicated to study, analyze and improve such processes within organizations. These professionals are called Knowledge Management Practitioners (KM Practitioners). In spite of not having at present certifications for this profession, majority still consists of professionals from diverse backgrounds (administrators, economists, engineers, archivists) forged by practice and application the concepts that comprise the Knowledge Management. The presence of this professionals type became more frequent as the world economy started to have more “workers of the knowledge” (in English, knowledge workers), i.e. workers in the service sectors of economy than the workforce in other sectors (industry and agriculture). That happened in the mid- seventies, which reinforce the exponential growth of That happened in the mid-seventies, which reinforced the exponential growth of the available knowledge. From that time the studies on the impact of this event in business world started to multiply. Drucker (1980) was the first one to use the term “knowledge worker”, Senge (1990), Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995), Davenport and Prusak (1998) and many others, have produced works that helped to establish what is known nowadays as Knowledge Management. 2. OBJECTIVE The main objective of this study is to identify the most influential theoreticians in Knowledge Management from the standpoint of those who practice this discipline in the business world, through social evaluation (rating). The secondary objective is to compare and validate the perception of KM practitioners with a more conventional method of measuring the influence and relevance of the scholars works, the H index. The third and final objective is to verify the quality and reliability of the opinions expressed in a social network. The main contribution of each one of the passed theoreticians does not make part of the aim of this work. Nevertheless, the contributions outlined in the Annex B.-2-
  3. 3. 3. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK This study is based on two basic concepts – definition of what is the area of Knowledge Management, necessity to define a theoretical area; and what is the index H - and the assumption that assessments (ratings) prepared by users are better and more accurate than rankings made by other methods (ODELL and HUBERT, 2011). 3.1 Management of the Knowledge (KM) The term Knowledge Management (KM) appeared initially as an academic discipline in Nonaka’s work in 1991. According to Davenport and Prusak (1998), the KM is a set of processes that controls the creation, dissemination and use of the knowledge to reach fully the objectives of the organization (DAVENPORT and PRUSAK, 1998). Griffiths (2011) makes the concept is more complete when he affirms that KM coordinates the organizational environment to develop value-based solutions that enable acquisition, storage, use, sharing and creating knowledge assets of organization, which can later be strategically and tactically applied to achieve the innovation needs of the organization, capability of change, and to facilitate decision making within the physical and virtual environments. In this work we consider KM as a systematic effort to assist the flow of knowledge and information to the right people at the right time so they can act more efficiently and effectively in order to find, understand, share and use knowledge with the purpose of creation add value (ODell and HUBERT, 2011). There is also the taxonomy, that is, the classification scheme used to categorize sets information on KM. Taxonomies of KM were used to verify that the cited author can even be considered an expert on the subject, was further verified in Scopus of the authors work on the area. 3.2 Index H The H index (also called the Hirsch index) is intended to measure both the productivity and impact of the published work of scientists and academics. The index works as follows: a scientist has index h if h of his/her Np papers have at least h citations each, and the other (Np − h) papers have no more than h citations each. (Hirsch, 2005). In other words, a scholar with an index of h has published h papers each of which has been cited in other papers at least h times. For example, a-3-
  4. 4. scientist H index is equal to 3 if at least each of three his articles cited in other 3 papers. The h-index is intended to measure simultaneously the quality and quantity of scientific output. The index works properly only for comparing scientists working in the same field; citation conventions differ widely among different fields. The h-index grows as citations accumulate and thus it depends on the academic age of a researcher. It is also important to mention the h-index can be manually determined using citation databases or using automatic tools. Subscription-based databases such as Scopus and the Web of Knowledge provide automated calculators. The literature makes a series of criticisms of this index, for instance: the h-index does not account for the number of co-authors of a paper. In this work in particular, offers an additional disadvantage since the source used, the Scopus database – considered the largest base of abstracts and citations of the world, containing 44 million records (SCOPUS, 2011) - began to calculate the H index from 1996 onwards, i.e. in a period subsequent to the publication of works by some of the authors cited. However, it is a universally accepted indicator and available. 4. METHODOLOGY This was a semi-qualitative and empirical work based on the collection and analysis of the opinions of 23 practitioners of Knowledge Management who would, in the opinion of these people, the most influential KM theoretician and why. The question "Who is, in his opinion, the most important theorist of Knowledge Management and what is his/her greatest contribution?" which was posted in English in April 2011 in the Community of KM Practitioners hosted on the website LinkedIn, a social network of professionals, received through June 2011 23 answers. In the preparation of this work, all the answers were taken into account, including those who were bringing names of more than a theoretician. It was not informed that the answers might, in some moment, be an object of a study. The opinion of the author was not taken into account in this analysis; it did not make part of the sample either. To perform the analysis, we created a table with the names of all the theorists cited and the number of mentions received by each of them, including those who are not in the area of Knowledge Management. The negative citations were dismissed.-4-
  5. 5. Then a search was made in the Scopus database system to identify H index of each author, the quantities of documents in the base, citations and co-authors included in the Scopus database for the preparation of another chart. This step was intended to corroborate, or not, the results obtained by the free consultation with KM professionals. Finally, the results obtained in the discussion group were compared with those of Scopus. The last step before the analysis was the calculation of the coefficient of simple linear correlation between the number of votes received by each scholar and its index H. By correlation here we mean the degree of relationship between two variables, in this case, the H index and the count of votes received by each theorist. The formula of the correlation is: Where r is the correlation coefficient, Cov is covariance and S is the standard deviation of data sets x and y (WANNACOTT and WANNACOTT, 1978). 5. SAMPLE USED The sample appeared randomly over three months after the question was posted to the group of practitioners of knowledge management (KM Practitioner Group). The analysis of this random sample shows that all respondents work in the area of knowledge management, document or information. From the standpoint of origin respondents are from different countries, i.e. 61% of the United States (5), UK (4) or South Africa. The others are from Australia (2), Netherlands (2), Ukraine, Belgium, Canada, India, with one representative each, and an uninformed (CHART 1).-5-
  6. 6. Australia Belgium Canada India N.I. Netherlands South Africa Ukraine United Kingdom USA CHART 1 - Origin of respondents (N.I. = No Information) As the main function they fulfill, those who participated in the discussion were divided into four categories: managers (for those who had a managerial position), entrepreneurs, consultants, analysts (for professionals who do not have managerial position) and academics (Table 1). TABLE 1 - Activity of Respondents Category Number Managers 9 Consultants 6 Entrepreneurs 2 Academics 1 Analysts 4 Not Specified 1 Total 23 With regard to the type of company, 70% work in private companies and 26% in public companies, a participant didn’t identify in what kind of company he work. In summary, this is a sample with experience and knowledge of the subject proposed in the post (LINKEDIN, 2011). The group where the question was posted, KM Practitioners Group, had in July 2011 1714 members. This community was created in July 2008 on LinkedIn by Judi Sandrock, writer and consultant, from the South Africa. However, Knowledge Management Practitioners Group in Johannesburg, South Africa existed since 2000. The purpose of this nonprofit group is to share knowledge and experience about the management and practice of knowledge sharing can be successful in business (KM, 2011).-6-
  7. 7. This is not the only group dedicated to knowledge management on LinkedIn. There are other groups with the largest number of participants as the Knowledge Management Experts (3257), the Gurteen Knowledge Community (2615) and KM Edge (1868). LinkedIn, which hosted KM Practitioners Group, is a professional social network which operates since 2003 and currently has over 100 million members in 200 countries. In Brazil there are more than three million members (LINKEDIN, 2011). 6. RESEARCH RESULTS According to the participants of the discussion, three most influential theorists of knowledge management are Davenport, Prusak and Nonaka. Table 2 shows the scholars who obtained at least two votes. Complete list is given in Annex A. TABLE 2 - Theorists who received more than 1 vote № Name Group H Index Documents Citations Co-authors 1 Davenport, T. H. 6 15 35 1074 60 2 Nonaka, I. 4 14 27 1672 27 3 Prusak, L. 4 8 15 518 14 4 Senge, P. 3 6 27 413 38 5 Wenger, E. 3 1 3 307 3 6 Drucker, P. 2 8 34 642 8 7 Boisot, M. 2 6 18 485 13 8 Sveiby, K. 2 3 6 53 2 9 Lambe, P. 2 1 1 0 0 Source: Scopus (2011) and LinkedIn (2011) Among those who received at least two votes for two prominent presences are Wenger and Lambe, because both have low H index in Scopus. Note that, Hirotaka Takeuchi, co-author of Nonaka in one of his major works, has H index equal to 2. On the other hand, among those with only one vote are:-7-
  8. 8. TABLE 3 - Theorists who received 1 vote № Name Group H Index Documents Citations Co-authors 11 Chia, R. 1 13 21 557 12 12 Szulanski, G. 1 11 15 1762 12 13 Buckman, R. 1 11 45 688 120 14 Brown. J. S. 1 9 40 2017 50 15 Argote, L. 1 9 28 1301 21 16 Duguid, P. 1 7 16 1092 2 17 Zack, M.H. 1 6 11 481 8 18 Henderson, J.C. 1 5 14 531 17 19 Quinn J.B. 1 5 25 393 40 20 Argyris, C. 1 4 17 338 0 21 Dixon, N. 1 3 4 31 7 Source: Scopus (2011) and LinkedIn (2011) I have noticed that the relationship between the scholars chosen by the group and data received via H index (only those who had more than one vote) is very strong - correlation coefficient makes 0.76. When making the same comparison excluding authors with H index greater than or equal to 1, the correlation power is lower (0.49), but still significant. The sensitivity analysis with respect to data used in the correlation is shown in the Table 4. TABLE 4 - Correlation between votes received and index H Correlation type Correlation Number All votes received index and H ≠ 0 0.4603 28 Index H ≥ 1 0.4117 24 Index H> 1 0.4911 19 Over a 1 vote 0.7624 9 Source: Scopus (2011) and authors analysis. 7. CONCLUSION The choices made by the group were supported by the index H revealed from the Scopus database. The two most important theorists pointed out by the group – Nonaka and Davenport - are also those with the higher H index. The calculation of the correlation also shows a strong connection between the list of top nine rated scholars and their respective H indexes. Finally, we can conclude that the perception and opinion stated collectively, generated in a social network, supports the relationship found between the number of papers published by academics and the number of citations obtained by such studies (as evidenced by the index H) and, therefore, reliable.-8-
  9. 9. REFERENCES 1. ARISTOTLE. The Categories, Project Gutenbergs text. November, 2000. available at <>. Accessed on April 12, 2010. 2. Davenport, T. H; Prusak, L. Knowledge and Business Organizations Manage your Intellectual Capital. Methods and Practical Applications. Rio de Janeiro: Campus, 1998. 3. GRIFFITHS, D. Redefining KM: New Principles for Better Practice. Ark Publications: London, 2011. 4. HIRSCH, J. E. An index to quantify an individuals scientific research output. PNAS 102 (46): 16569-16572. Available at: <>. Accessed on July 10, 2011. 5. KM. The Knowledge Management Practitioners Group. Johannesburg (South Africa). Available at: <> Accessed on July 13, 2011. 6. LINKEDIN. Available in <>. Accessed on July 13, 2011. 7. LINKEDIN. Who is the most influential Knowledge Management theorist? And why? Posted in Linkedin on April, 2011. Available at: <>. 2011. 8. NONAKA, I.; TAKEUCHI, H. The Knowledge-creating company: How Japanese companies create the dynamics of innovation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. 9. ODELL; C.; HUBERT, C. The New Edge in Knowledge: How Knowledge Management Is 10. Changing the Way We Do Business. New Jersey: Wiley, 2011. 236p. 11. POLANYI, M. The Tacit Dimension. Routledge and Kegan Paul: London, UK, 1966. 12. SCOPUS. What does it cover? Scopus. Available at: Accessed on June 23, 2011. 13. WONNACOTT, R.J.; WONNACOTT, T.H. Econometria. Rio de Janeiro: Technical and scientific books, 1978.-9-
  10. 10. Annex A - Full list of Scholars with votes received and index H TABLE 4 – Full list of Scholars with votes received and index H № Name Group H Index 1 Davenport, T. H. 6 15 2 Nonaka, I. 4 14 3 Prusak, L. 4 8 4 Senge, P. 3 6 5 Wenger, E. 3 1 6 Drucker, P. 2 8 7 Boisot, M. 2 6 8 Sveiby, K. 2 3 9 Lambe, P. 2 1 10 Kandel, E. R. 1 81 11 Chia, R. 1 13 12 Szulanski, G. 1 11 13 Quinn J.B. 1 5 14 No‡, A. 1 11 15 Buckman, R. 1 11 16 Brown. J. S. 1 9 17 Argote, L. 1 9 18 Duguid, P. 1 7 19 Zack, M.H. 1 6 20 Henderson , J.C. 1 5 21 Argyris, C. 1 4 22 Dixon, N. 1 3 23 Orna, E. 1 2 24 Kimiz, D. 1 1 25 McElroy, M. W. 1 1 26 Curry, A. 1 1 27 Schultz, W. 1 1 28 Stewart, T. A. 1 1 29 Sennett, R 1 1 30 Bridges, W. 1 0 31 Amindon, D. 1 0 32 Geus, A. P. 1 0 33 Newman, B. 1 0 34 Gurteen, D. 1 0 35 Klein, G. L. 1 0 36 Collins, J. C 1 N.A. 37 Kahn, A. 1 N.A. 38 Pang, A. 1 N.A. N.A. Not Available Note: authors grayed out area of work is different than Knowledge Management, Information Management or Strategic Management.- 10
  11. 11. Annex B - Contribution of Theorists Mentioned From the viewpoint of the main contribution, the participants perception of community practitioners is described below: TABLE 5 – Contribution of Theorists Mentioned Name Votes Contribution received Davenport, T. 6 Information Management Nonaka, I. 4 Organizational Knowledge Creation Prusak, L. 4 Information Management Senge, P. 3 Learning Organizations Wenger, E. 2 Communities of Practice Drucker, P. 2 Strategy and concept of knowledge worker Boisot, M. 2 I-Space Model Sveiby, K. 2 Metrics for knowledge management Lambe, P. 2 Knowledge Management history and taxonomy Chia, R. 1 N.A. Szulanski, G. 1 Knowledge transfer (knowledge stickness) Quinn J.B. 1 Translate the concepts of commitment and expertise into the customer value Buckman, R. 1 Brown. J. S. 1 Argote, L. 1 N.A. Duguid, P. 1 N.A. Zack, M.H. 1 Ability to synthesize key concepts and theories Henderson, J. C. 1 Stewart, T.A. 1 Theory of the Intelligent Enterprise Argyris, C. 1 Dixon, N. 1 Concept of Common Knowledge Orna, E. 1 Knowledge auditing and the groundwork for strategy/roadmap N.A.: Not Available, i.e., the participant mentioned the author but did not tell what the most relevant contribution was. Source: LINKEDIN (2011th)- 11