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Journal Article

Organisational Knowledge Base and Knowledge Transfer in the Shipping Industry  pp325-340

Jiangang Fei, Solomon Chen, Shu-Ling Chen

© Jun 2009 Volume 7 Issue 3, Editor: Dan Remenyi, pp297 - 397

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Abstract

Severe shortages of skilled and qualified personnel in the shipping industry have been addressed in different ways. This paper looks into the issue from a new perspective where high mobility in the shipping industry is seen as a vehicle of knowledge flows that can be used for knowledge transfer. This paper argues that while organisations cannot stop personnel leaving, it is possible, however, to retain part of the knowledge that these leaving personnel carry through effective knowledge management practices. This paper introduces organizational knowledge base (OKB) and identifies knowledge flows both at organizational and industrial levels showing that much can be done to effectively utilise knowledge spillovers brought about by high personnel mobility in the shipping industry. The paper then examines the barriers and facilitators of knowledge transfer in the context of the shipping industry. Due to the unique characteristics of the shipping industry such as the absence of genuine employment link between seafarers, and the remoteness of the onboard workplace from the onshore management, conventional knowledge management practices need to be modified to suit the context of the shipping industry. The paper suggests that advanced information and communication technologies, a dedicated knowledge sharing culture, and strong leadership are essential factors in facilitating knowledge transfer in the context of shipping. The implications of the application of knowledge management practices in the shipping industry are two fold: one is the change of perspectives towards the shortage of skilled personnel in the shipping industry which in turn impacts on maritime education and training; the other is the realignment of resources in tackling the problem of skill shortages, that is, a shift from employee retention to knowledge retention. It is expected that such an attempt will shed light on the understanding of skill shortages from a different perspective and provide insight on the tasks that the shipping industry is facing.

 

Keywords: OKB, human mobility, knowledge management, knowledge flow, knowledge transfer

 

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