Some of the key issues that emerged from the two days included a consensus that KM has evolved so we no longer need to convince people it is needed. We now need now to know how to “do KM” – that is, how to implement knowledge management in organizations in a more informed manner. In particular, the need for more how‑to guides, detailed rules, good validated practices and an overall quasi‑standard approach to KM implementation were noted as priority needs for the KM community. In addition, particular guidance is required concerning the KM teams (who should do what?) and how best to address tacit knowledge. Other issues concerned the specific components that should be present in a KM workspace and how this workspace can address the needs of different users who need to accomplish different sorts of tasks
While participants felt that we still have to convince some senior managers, we now also need to better address how to align KM processes so as to not create overhead. For example, what is the impact of KM on other parts of the organization such as training and IT units? How can we change peoples’ behaviours and how they think about the work they do? What are the new skills/competencies needed? How can they acquire them? How to integrate KM into business processes? How to integrate KM roles within existing jobs?
The good news is that the discipline and practice of KM has evolved – the bad news is that we still have a long way to go. The focus is now on how to do KM well. Educators need to focus on student competencies, skills and roles and responsibilities. Researchers need to focus on more evidence‑based and theory‑based KM. Practitioners need to focus on feedback from users and best practices.
The collection of papers in this special conference edition address the multitude of issues we currently face, and will continue to face, in the future. There is an excellent mix of practical case studies, practical tools such as intellectual capital measurement models in addition to more conceptual and theoretical approaches to solving crucial KM problems.
Prof. W.B. Lee is Director of the Knowledge Management Research Centre of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Prof. Lee is the editor of the Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems, and International Journal of Knowledge and Systems Science. He established the Knowledge Solution Laboratory, the first of its kind in Hong Kong and has pioneered research and practice of knowledge management and knowledge audit in various organizations. Prof. Lee and his team have launched Asia’s first on‑line MSc. Program in Knowledge Management. His research interest includes manufacturing systems, knowledge management, organizational learning and intellectual capital‑based management.
The 7th International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management & Organizational Learning (ICICKM 2010) was hosted by the Knowledge Management Research Centre ,The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China, the first time in Asia.
The conference is well attended by more than 100 delegates from over 30 countries and regions. This conference series is unique in the sense that it unifies all the important themes in this multidisciplinary area which can be pursued from either the knowledge management, intellectual capital management or organizational learning perspectives or any combinations of them. The relationship between these themes is important. It is only through the effective management of our knowledge assets and the continuous learning of individuals, teams and organization that we are able to build the intellectual capital which is the underlying power driving corporation’s future growth.
Apart from the rich tacit knowledge exchange among delegates during the conference, the conference proceedings give a good record of papers delivered at the conference. Our thanks and appreciation go out to all those who presented papers and participated in the conference. Feedback to date from delegates and participants has been extremely positive. The support from departments within the University and our session Chairs and Keynote speakers is gratefully acknowledged. We also recognize the efforts of both the Executive and Conference Committees for their contribution to the double blind peer review process. Based on the input of the session chairs, we are able to select 10 papers of these to be published in this electronic Journal. These cover a lot of topics including KM models, strategy, innovation, organizational leaning, and intellectual capital measurement, and provide various new insights to the readers.
Grant started by asking the question if knowledge Management (KM) is just another fab. Through the lens of management fashion theory and a good review from bibliometric evidence he assures us that KM is unlike other management themes and is an enduring management activity. However, there is a potential conflict between the interests of practitioners and researchers. With different perspectives and prescriptions, Imani furthers the discussion by examining the KM strategy in 18 global companies and finds out how they are linked to the business strategy, which are either formulaic (to support routine activities) or embryonic (to address corporate strategic agenda). On the other hand, Tan and Nasurdin focus on the influence of KM effectiveness on innovation in 171 large manufacturing firms in Malaysia and find out that the effectiveness of knowledge acquisition has a positive influence on both the technological and administrative (organizational) innovation.
Another issue of concern to researchers in this conference is on how knowledge management is linked to business performance and its evaluation. These findings and observations are reinforced in a study conducted by Rabhi in Saudi Arabia on the effect of KM on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including customer satisfaction, business savings and projects completed. Tiago et al. studied the relationship between the knowledge management and eBusiness activities by applying a structural equation model in a large database of KM activities of European and American firms. In a study of performance of a Quality Assurance Department conducted by Chan in an electronic factory, the performance of the quality management processes is related to the intellectual capital involved which is captured from a knowledge audit of the plant.
De Alvarenga Neto and Vieira from their Brazil experience described the four main components of KM Model in a Brazilian research cooperation, that is, strategy, the environment (from social, information, cognitive and business), tool boxes, and tangible and intangible outputs, and concluded that for the model to be useful it should be collaboratively built among organization units instead of one from top‑down. Inter‑organizational and organizational learning has been recognized to be important for knowledge creation. Laursen, based on an empirical study of four organizational development projects at four Danish high schools revealdifferent perspectives on the projects set up by the staff and the management and how the perspectives have consequences on what is actually learned by individuals as well as the whole organization. As team learning and performance is closely related to the shared mental models of the team members, Zou and Lee explored the shared mental model of eight sigma project teams through collective sensemaking workshops conducted in an electronics factory in China. It was found that a high performance team perceived stronger interrelatedness between key teamwork concepts than average teams did. An area that has been less studied is the effect of age diversity on knowledge transfer in workplace, which roots from the retirement of baby boom generation in many mature organizations. Wang and Dong undertook a study on some basic questions in intergenerational knowledge transfer such as analysis framework and transfer mechanism from a sociological perspective.
Despite the diversity of topics they all tend to address on how KM performance is related to business goals, how the effectiveness is evaluated and how organizational learning takes place, one feature of all these papers is that they all have data to support their cases and cut across various countries and cultures. I hope this special issue serves as a timely and updated reference for the KM, IC and OL professions.