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Organizational Impacts of Knowledge Management (KM) on People, Processes, Products
and Organisational Performance
By Dr. G C Mohanta, Professor, Al-Qurmoshi Institute of Business Management,
Hyderabad, India
Reasons for Companies Adopting KM
The companies adopt KM due to the following reasons:
- Retaining expertise of employees,
- Enhancing customers’ satisfaction with the company’s products and
- Increasing profits or revenues.
KM Impacts
KM solutions and knowledge can have impacts on the organization performance and the impacts
can be on the following:
(i) People, (ii) Processes, (iii) Products and (iv) Organizational performance
KM Impacts on People
KM can have the following impacts on people:
- KM can facilitate employee learning,
- KM can facilitate employee adaptability and cause employees to become more flexible and
- KM can also enhance employee job satisfaction.
KM Impacts on Employee Learning
This can be accomplished through:
- Externalization, e.g., writing a report on lessons learned from a project;
- Internalization, e.g., when employees preparing for a later project, can read it;
- Socialization, e.g., through joint activities, such as, meetings or informal chats;
- Communities of Practice - an organic and self-organized group of individuals who are
dispersed geographically or organizationally, but communicate regularly to discuss issues of
mutual interest
KM Impacts on Employee Adaptability
The KM can impact employee adaptability as follows:
- Employees are likely to adapt, when they interact with each other.
- They are more likely to accept change and
- They are more prepared to respond to change and less likely to be caught by surprise!
KM Impacts on Employee Job Satisfaction
Recent study found that in organizations having more employees sharing knowledge with one
another, turnover rates were reduced, thereby positively affecting revenue and profit. Employees
feel better because of their knowledge acquisition and skill enhancement. Employees’ market
value is enhanced relative to other organizations’ employees.
KM also provides employees with solutions to problems they face, in case those same problems
have been encountered earlier, and effectively addressed. Providing tried & tested solutions to
the employees, amplifies employees’ effectiveness in performing their jobs. Also helps provided
by the organisation, keep employees motivated.
Additional increases in employee job satisfaction derive from KM practices as follows:
- Mentoring and training are excellent motivators for employees.
- Communities of Practice provide intimate and socially validated control to the employees over
their own work practices.
KM Impacts on Processes
KM enables improvements in organizational processes such as marketing, manufacturing,
accounting, engineering, and public relations. These impacts can be seen along three major
dimensions as follows:
- Effectiveness,
- Efficiency and
- Degree of innovation of the processes.
Effectiveness, Efficiency and Innovation
Effectiveness is performing the most suitable processes and making the best possible decisions.
Efficiency is performing the processes quickly and in a low-cost fashion.
Innovation is performing the processes in a creative and novel fashion that improves
effectiveness and efficiency, or at least marketability.
KM Impacts on Processes: Effectiveness
KM can enable organizations to become more effective by helping them to select and perform
the most appropriate processes, so that there are fewer mistakes. KM enables organizations to
quickly adapt their processes according to the current circumstances, thereby maintaining
process effectiveness in changing times.
KM Impacts on Processes: Efficiency
KM can enable organizations in productivity improvement and cost savings. Managing
knowledge effectively can also enable organizations to be more productive and efficient.
KM Impacts on Processes: Innovation
Organizations can increasingly rely on knowledge shared across individuals to produce
innovative solutions to problems, as well as, to develop more innovative organizational
processes. KM has been found to enable frequent improved brainstorming, thus enhancing
process innovation. KM can enable organizations by better exploitation of new ideas. “The
power of intellectual capital is the ability to breed ideas that ignite value”.
KM Impacts on Products
KM Impact on products can be
- Value added products
- Knowledge based products
KM Impacts on Value-Added Products
KM processes can help organizations offer new products or improved products that provide a
significant additional value as compared with earlier products. Value-added products also benefit
from KM due to the effect the latter has on organizational process innovation.
KM Impacts on Knowledge-Based Products
KM can have a significant impact on products that are knowledge based, e.g.:
- Consulting
- Software development
Consultants can quickly access and combine the best available knowledge and bid on proposals
that would otherwise be too costly or too time-consuming to put together. Company can place
solutions to software problems of customer in a shareable knowledge base. Let customers
download software patches based on their answers to an automated “wizard” system that
prompts customers with a series of questions aimed at diagnosing the customer needs.
In knowledge-based industries, KM is often necessary just for mere survival. Knowledge based
products can sometimes play a significant role in traditional manufacturing firms, too.
KM Impacts on Organizational Performance
“Ideas are capital. The rest is just money.” – Deutsche Bank ad in Wall Street Journal. It reflects
the belief that investments in KM should be viewed as capital investments, to produce long-term
benefits to the entire organization, instead of assets providing value only at the present time.
Direct Impacts
The direct impacts of KM are as follows:
- Knowledge is used to create innovative products that generate revenue and profit.
- In theory, it is relatively straightforward to measure in terms of improvements in ROI (return
on investment).
Indirect Impacts
The indirect impacts of KM are as follows:
- Use of KM to demonstrate intellectual leadership within the industry, which, in turn, might
enhance customer loyalty.
- Use of knowledge to gain an advantageous negotiating position with respect to competitors or
partner organizations.
Unlike direct impact, indirect impact cannot be directly associated with transactions and
therefore cannot be easily measured.
Knowledge Management Impacts on Organizational Performance
The organizational performance can be improved through the following:
- Scale economies,
- Scope economies and
- Sustainable competitive advantage.
Economy of Scale
A company’s output is said to exhibit economy of scale, if the average cost of production per unit
decreases with increase in output.
Reasons:
- Large setup cost, making low-scale production uneconomic,
- Possibilities for specialization increase as production increases and
- Greater likelihood of discounts from suppliers when production is large-scale
Economy of Scope
A company’s output is said to exhibit economy of scope when the total cost of that same
company producing two or more different products is less than the sum of the costs that would
be incurred if each product had been produced separately by a different company
Reasons:
- Joint use of production facilities,
- Joint use of marketing,
- Joint use of administration and
- Joint use of distribution channels
Indirect Impacts on Economy of Scale and Scope
KM can contribute to economies of scale and scope by:
- improving the organization’s ability to create and leverage knowledge related to products,
customers, and managerial resources across businesses;
- enabling sharing of products designs, components, manufacturing processes, and expertise
across businesses, thus reducing development and manufacturing costs, accelerating new product
development, and supporting quick response to new market opportunities;
- enabling cross-selling of existing products or development of new products, by sharing
knowledge of customer preferences, needs, and buying behaviors;
- enabling the deployment of general marketing skills and sales forces across businesses.
Indirect Impacts on Sustainable Competitive Advantage
Knowledge can enable an organization to develop and exploit other tangible and intangible
resources better than the competitors can, even when the resources might not be unique.
Knowledge tends to be unique and therefore difficult to imitate. Unlike most traditional
resources, knowledge cannot easily be purchased in a ready-to-use form. To obtain similar
knowledge, competitors have to engage in similar experiences but obtaining knowledge through
experience takes time. So competitors are limited in the extent to which they can accelerate their
learning through greater investment.
- enabling sharing of products designs, components, manufacturing processes, and expertise
across businesses, thus reducing development and manufacturing costs, accelerating new product
development, and supporting quick response to new market opportunities;
- enabling cross-selling of existing products or development of new products, by sharing
knowledge of customer preferences, needs, and buying behaviors;
- enabling the deployment of general marketing skills and sales forces across businesses.
Indirect Impacts on Sustainable Competitive Advantage
Knowledge can enable an organization to develop and exploit other tangible and intangible
resources better than the competitors can, even when the resources might not be unique.
Knowledge tends to be unique and therefore difficult to imitate. Unlike most traditional
resources, knowledge cannot easily be purchased in a ready-to-use form. To obtain similar
knowledge, competitors have to engage in similar experiences but obtaining knowledge through
experience takes time. So competitors are limited in the extent to which they can accelerate their
learning through greater investment.

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Organisational impacts of Knowledge Management on People, Processes, Products and Organisational Performance

  • 1. Organizational Impacts of Knowledge Management (KM) on People, Processes, Products and Organisational Performance By Dr. G C Mohanta, Professor, Al-Qurmoshi Institute of Business Management, Hyderabad, India Reasons for Companies Adopting KM The companies adopt KM due to the following reasons: - Retaining expertise of employees, - Enhancing customers’ satisfaction with the company’s products and - Increasing profits or revenues. KM Impacts KM solutions and knowledge can have impacts on the organization performance and the impacts can be on the following: (i) People, (ii) Processes, (iii) Products and (iv) Organizational performance KM Impacts on People KM can have the following impacts on people: - KM can facilitate employee learning, - KM can facilitate employee adaptability and cause employees to become more flexible and - KM can also enhance employee job satisfaction. KM Impacts on Employee Learning This can be accomplished through: - Externalization, e.g., writing a report on lessons learned from a project; - Internalization, e.g., when employees preparing for a later project, can read it; - Socialization, e.g., through joint activities, such as, meetings or informal chats; - Communities of Practice - an organic and self-organized group of individuals who are dispersed geographically or organizationally, but communicate regularly to discuss issues of mutual interest KM Impacts on Employee Adaptability The KM can impact employee adaptability as follows: - Employees are likely to adapt, when they interact with each other. - They are more likely to accept change and - They are more prepared to respond to change and less likely to be caught by surprise! KM Impacts on Employee Job Satisfaction
  • 2. Recent study found that in organizations having more employees sharing knowledge with one another, turnover rates were reduced, thereby positively affecting revenue and profit. Employees feel better because of their knowledge acquisition and skill enhancement. Employees’ market value is enhanced relative to other organizations’ employees. KM also provides employees with solutions to problems they face, in case those same problems have been encountered earlier, and effectively addressed. Providing tried & tested solutions to the employees, amplifies employees’ effectiveness in performing their jobs. Also helps provided by the organisation, keep employees motivated. Additional increases in employee job satisfaction derive from KM practices as follows: - Mentoring and training are excellent motivators for employees. - Communities of Practice provide intimate and socially validated control to the employees over their own work practices. KM Impacts on Processes KM enables improvements in organizational processes such as marketing, manufacturing, accounting, engineering, and public relations. These impacts can be seen along three major dimensions as follows: - Effectiveness, - Efficiency and - Degree of innovation of the processes. Effectiveness, Efficiency and Innovation Effectiveness is performing the most suitable processes and making the best possible decisions. Efficiency is performing the processes quickly and in a low-cost fashion. Innovation is performing the processes in a creative and novel fashion that improves effectiveness and efficiency, or at least marketability. KM Impacts on Processes: Effectiveness KM can enable organizations to become more effective by helping them to select and perform the most appropriate processes, so that there are fewer mistakes. KM enables organizations to quickly adapt their processes according to the current circumstances, thereby maintaining process effectiveness in changing times. KM Impacts on Processes: Efficiency KM can enable organizations in productivity improvement and cost savings. Managing knowledge effectively can also enable organizations to be more productive and efficient. KM Impacts on Processes: Innovation
  • 3. Organizations can increasingly rely on knowledge shared across individuals to produce innovative solutions to problems, as well as, to develop more innovative organizational processes. KM has been found to enable frequent improved brainstorming, thus enhancing process innovation. KM can enable organizations by better exploitation of new ideas. “The power of intellectual capital is the ability to breed ideas that ignite value”. KM Impacts on Products KM Impact on products can be - Value added products - Knowledge based products KM Impacts on Value-Added Products KM processes can help organizations offer new products or improved products that provide a significant additional value as compared with earlier products. Value-added products also benefit from KM due to the effect the latter has on organizational process innovation. KM Impacts on Knowledge-Based Products KM can have a significant impact on products that are knowledge based, e.g.: - Consulting - Software development Consultants can quickly access and combine the best available knowledge and bid on proposals that would otherwise be too costly or too time-consuming to put together. Company can place solutions to software problems of customer in a shareable knowledge base. Let customers download software patches based on their answers to an automated “wizard” system that prompts customers with a series of questions aimed at diagnosing the customer needs. In knowledge-based industries, KM is often necessary just for mere survival. Knowledge based products can sometimes play a significant role in traditional manufacturing firms, too. KM Impacts on Organizational Performance “Ideas are capital. The rest is just money.” – Deutsche Bank ad in Wall Street Journal. It reflects the belief that investments in KM should be viewed as capital investments, to produce long-term benefits to the entire organization, instead of assets providing value only at the present time. Direct Impacts The direct impacts of KM are as follows: - Knowledge is used to create innovative products that generate revenue and profit. - In theory, it is relatively straightforward to measure in terms of improvements in ROI (return on investment).
  • 4. Indirect Impacts The indirect impacts of KM are as follows: - Use of KM to demonstrate intellectual leadership within the industry, which, in turn, might enhance customer loyalty. - Use of knowledge to gain an advantageous negotiating position with respect to competitors or partner organizations. Unlike direct impact, indirect impact cannot be directly associated with transactions and therefore cannot be easily measured. Knowledge Management Impacts on Organizational Performance The organizational performance can be improved through the following: - Scale economies, - Scope economies and - Sustainable competitive advantage. Economy of Scale A company’s output is said to exhibit economy of scale, if the average cost of production per unit decreases with increase in output. Reasons: - Large setup cost, making low-scale production uneconomic, - Possibilities for specialization increase as production increases and - Greater likelihood of discounts from suppliers when production is large-scale Economy of Scope A company’s output is said to exhibit economy of scope when the total cost of that same company producing two or more different products is less than the sum of the costs that would be incurred if each product had been produced separately by a different company Reasons: - Joint use of production facilities, - Joint use of marketing, - Joint use of administration and - Joint use of distribution channels Indirect Impacts on Economy of Scale and Scope KM can contribute to economies of scale and scope by: - improving the organization’s ability to create and leverage knowledge related to products, customers, and managerial resources across businesses;
  • 5. - enabling sharing of products designs, components, manufacturing processes, and expertise across businesses, thus reducing development and manufacturing costs, accelerating new product development, and supporting quick response to new market opportunities; - enabling cross-selling of existing products or development of new products, by sharing knowledge of customer preferences, needs, and buying behaviors; - enabling the deployment of general marketing skills and sales forces across businesses. Indirect Impacts on Sustainable Competitive Advantage Knowledge can enable an organization to develop and exploit other tangible and intangible resources better than the competitors can, even when the resources might not be unique. Knowledge tends to be unique and therefore difficult to imitate. Unlike most traditional resources, knowledge cannot easily be purchased in a ready-to-use form. To obtain similar knowledge, competitors have to engage in similar experiences but obtaining knowledge through experience takes time. So competitors are limited in the extent to which they can accelerate their learning through greater investment.
  • 6. - enabling sharing of products designs, components, manufacturing processes, and expertise across businesses, thus reducing development and manufacturing costs, accelerating new product development, and supporting quick response to new market opportunities; - enabling cross-selling of existing products or development of new products, by sharing knowledge of customer preferences, needs, and buying behaviors; - enabling the deployment of general marketing skills and sales forces across businesses. Indirect Impacts on Sustainable Competitive Advantage Knowledge can enable an organization to develop and exploit other tangible and intangible resources better than the competitors can, even when the resources might not be unique. Knowledge tends to be unique and therefore difficult to imitate. Unlike most traditional resources, knowledge cannot easily be purchased in a ready-to-use form. To obtain similar knowledge, competitors have to engage in similar experiences but obtaining knowledge through experience takes time. So competitors are limited in the extent to which they can accelerate their learning through greater investment.