Volume 7 Issue 3 / Jun 2009 pp297‑397
Keywords: competitive intelligence, conceptual umbrella metaphor, e-business performance, elicitation, enabling context, Ba, European firms, external knowledge, framework G-U-I-N, globalization, higher education, human networks, industry attractiveness, information age, information and communication technology, information communication, integration, intellectual capital, KM in agribusiness, knowledge capitalization, knowledge complexity, knowledge maps, knowledge modelling, knowledge sharing, knowledge transfer, leadership, mapping technique, merging, mind map, m-k toolkit, mobile knowledge, new technology-based firm (NTBF), ontology, research network, risk, social aspects, social network analysis, social software, strategic alliances, strategic information management, strategy formulation process, technologies, technology adoption, technology, Thailand, triple helix model, university-industry interaction, value network, virtual knowledge management, wicked problems
It is unanimously agreed that a business communication curriculum plays an important role in preparing students for the workforce in the corporate (Pittenger, Khushwant K. S.; Miller, Mary C. & Allison, Jesse, 2006; Zhao, Jensen J. & Alexander, Melody W., 2004). However, Student population in India undertaking a program in business management primarily comprises those for whom English is a second language. In this scenario, it becomes extremely important to analyze how the faculty teaching business management students perceive the course of business communication and students' possession of business communication skills (Plutsky, Susan & Wilson, Barbara A., 1996). In this connection, very little work has been done on the perceptions of faculty teaching business management students in India. What are the areas of business communication curriculum which faculty perceives as important? What are those areas of business communication in which faculty feel students are more competent? Should something be added to the curriculum to make it more effective? This study enters this discussion by presenting a small empirical study of a faculty's perception of the business communication needs of students. A sample of 93 faculty members, teaching with AICTE accredited management institutions in India have expressed their opinion on the said issue by way of questionnaires. The ultimate goal is to reorient the curriculum of business communication according to the findings of the present study.
Keywords: business communication, oral skills, written skills, topics covered, knowledge dissemination, faculty perceptions
Recent developments have witnessed the emergence of a new economy where knowledge has become a valuable resource and asset. The dynamism of the new economy requires us to not only quickly create knowledge, but also to acquire and apply knowledge quickly. One possible way to do so is to share our knowledge effectively. Knowledge sharing is envisaged as a natural activity of the academic institutions as the number of seminars, conferences and publications by academics is far exceeding any other profession, signifying the eagerness of academics to share knowledge. However, instead of knowledge sharing, "knowledge hoarding" could be more prevalent in academic institutions. This paper examines knowledge sharing behavior among academics in a private university in Malaysia. Factors affecting the willingness to share knowledge, broadly classified as organizational, individual and technology factors, are examined. The overall findings revealed that incentive systems and personal expectation are the two key factors in driving academics to engage in knowledge sharing activity. "Forced" participation is not an effective policy in cultivating sharing behavior among academics.
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.
In the past years Knowledge Management has dealt with various aspects of knowledge retention, knowledge sharing and knowledge development. It is agreed that knowledge documentation is essential for all these purposes, in order to enable their re‑use. Many books and articles have been written on accessibility of documents, revealing an understanding that knowledge that cannot be accessed cannot be re‑used. Most effort has been invested in providing the focused list of relevant documents to the user, while less research has been conducted on how to write the documentation so as to ease its reading, understanding and use. This issue seems to be critical as we notice that existing organizational knowledge is far from being fully utilized: for example, regulations and procedures, including the organization's wisdom, are written; however, recurring faults do occur. People tend not to re‑read entire or partial documents, even when the knowledge therein is needed. This paper describes a framework for the document's internal design. The research hypothesis claims that internal design, using the proposed enabling technique, eases understanding and usage of documents. It therefore reduces the knowledge loss. The research methodology implemented was a qualitative method; the strategy chosen was instrumental: multiple case study (Stake, 1995). The research sample included both organizations (public sector) and the public (KM readers), the research instruments consisting of documentation, archival records, interviews, direct‑observations, participant‑observation and physical artifacts. The findings suggest that internal documentation design eases reading, eases understanding and probably eases use. It therefore leverages knowledge understanding in documents, and reduces knowledge loss. The proposed framework may be useful for a large range of organizational documentation needs, from procedures of work, through SOW's, Engineering Specs, white papers and professional doctrines including organizational knowledge. The framework was designed for organizational Knowledge Management needs, but serves for external rich knowledge documentation as well. It has been used since 2007, in more than fifty cases in five different organizations in Israel.
User support has been in existence since the inception of computers in business and with their workforce dependent on technology, organizations depend on the quality of information technology (IT) support services to quickly restore and prevent any downtime due to any failure in technology or its use. Standardization of systems, and the speed with which knowledge becomes redundant, means that support‑personnel technical knowledge is gained and discarded on a continuing basis. This research evaluates how an organization can conceptualize knowledge management (KM) of IT Support in order to maximize user productivity. Grounded Theory approach is used to explore the knowledge management activities and processes present within the Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) group of a multidisciplinary research centre called iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Science (LABS). Firstly, the approach involved participant observation to gather information about the work flow of EIT support forming the first attempt at open coding. Secondly, semi‑structured interviews, as well as the use of the Repertory Grid Technique were used to gather multiple perspectives of support personnel. Extant literature was then incorporated to develop the emergent theory. This research found that the knowledge management foundation for IT Support is strategy and culture based on the constructs of commitment and reciprocity. Further, communication and competency were identified as additional enabling conditions. From this, an adapted KM model for IT Support Service is presented. The model agrees with Nonaka and Konno's 'ba' concept within the Socialization‑Externalization‑Combination‑Internalization (SECI) process. Every transition between the quadrants representing ba (knowledge platforms) requires 'conversion energy', in agreement with IT Service Management Service Management Functions of Microsoft's Operations Framework.
Keywords: knowledge management, information technology, support service, repertory grid, grounded theory
Situated, Embodied Human Interaction and its Implications for Context Building in Knowledge Mobilisation Design pp368‑377
System design is mostly guided by the computational model of the mind, known as computational cognitivism. This model, traditionally based on Turing's Universal Machine, looms large behind the bulk of system design even in Intelligence Augmentation (IA) approach to human‑computer interaction, although with the seemingly obvious exception of connectionist approaches (e.g. neural networks, swarm intelligence). Other extensive computational models do exist (e.g. Hintikka and Mutanen's trial‑and‑error computability model and Peirce's semiotic model) but they have not yet been implemented in working computer systems. Computational cognitivism pictures the mind as a disembodied, decontextualized calculating machine, operating with logical‑ syntactic rules and principles. This view has in contemporary times been challenged from the quarters of biology, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, psychology and economics. Perhaps the best comprehensive label for this critical approach is grounded cognition. Grounded cognition conceptualises the mind as a complex process related to and partially constituted by body, environment, other minds and artefacts, thus calling for a corresponding re‑evaluation of knowing, understanding, learning, perception, action, interaction and reasoning. The aim of this paper is to tentatively examine whether these insights into natural cognition could inform the system design of mobile systems which support nomadic knowledge workers as well as the man in the street. Computer supported (automated) context building is of special interest here as the human way(s) of being in the world presents a particular challenge to this part of system design.
Keywords: mobile human-computer interaction, situated rationality, embodied rationality, grounded cognition, knowledge mobilisation, context design, abduction
Starting with a critique of the epistemological and ontological bases of neo‑institutionalism, in this article we defend the potential for the application of post‑structuralist perspectives to the institutional approach. We contend that this theoretical approach, which incorporates an element, traditionally overlooked in institutional analyses, namely power, has the advantage of contributing to an enhanced comprehension of the dynamics of institutionalization. We apply post‑structural perspectives, particularly as presented by Michel Foucault, as well as the pragmatic perspectives represented by the works of William James and Richard Rorty, to explicating underpinnings of the institutional approach. We would stress that the affinity between the post‑structural perspective and pragmatism has been acknowledged by other authors, such as Keller (1995), McSwite (1997) and Rorty (1999) himself. Incorporating the element of power into the analysis contributes to an enhanced comprehension of the dynamics of institutionalization. In conclusion, we believe that the area of organizational studies would benefit by a more all‑encompassing vision of the processes of institutionalization, which would include power at its core, instead of considering institutions as non‑changing variables. Clegg (1989) has provided a framework for such analysis and this paper serves to elaborate what some of its philosophical foundations might be in greater detail. We would stress that it is not possible to find answers if we just search for cause‑effect relations, because the explanations found through causal mechanisms constitutes, in itself, a kind of discourse of power, as pointed out by moderns such as Hobbes (1650). Undoubtedly, if we take empirical research into consideration, what we need is, from a historical perspective, understand the way by which the main discourses or narratives constitute, transform and are transformed by our objects of investigation, among which organizations certainly occupy a central place. However, it is necessary to tackle this undertaking with a certain degree of humility, abandoning the search for ultimate causes to more proximate and local narratives, small stories that communicate their own sense of the mechanisms of truth at work. And in these matters, we should be bullied into causality.
Keywords: power, discursive practices, institutionalization, post-structuralism, fields, construction of the "real"
The purpose of this article is to review the role of simultaneous application of multiple perspectives, or pluralism, in knowledge management, and to describe theoretical frameworks that support pluralism. Pluralism is defined as support for all three of the systems perspectives â€” hard, soft, and critical â€” that are implicit in the popular Davenport and Prusak (1998) definition of knowledge. These perspectives are associated with research paradigms (positivist, interpretivist, pluralist) and knowledge perspectives (application, normalization, creation). A case study of coordinating work in a hospital is reviewed to illustrate the role played by pluralistic approaches in knowledge management. A literature search is conducted to find frameworks that support pluralism. The findings are as follow. In the hospital case study the introduction of a patient record system (hard system) was the occasion for changes to both coordination (soft systems) and power relations (critical systems). Facts, norms and feelings are intertwined. While the electronic tool by itself is neutral in the face of power relations, its use in organisations is not. In this case at least, a holistic and pluralistic approach to knowledge management is required. In the search for frameworks to support pluralism, more than 50 frameworks from the general knowledge management literature are identified. Of the eight selected for further study, three are found to be pluralistic. These three â€” critical systems, scientific discourses, and Habermasian inquiry â€” share common characteristics. All three recognise that conflict is the precondition to knowledge creation, and that power relations, value commitments, and ethics are central to knowledge management. It is concluded that the knowledge management literature as a whole favours a single systems perspective (hard systems); a single research paradigm (positivism, focusing on objective facts); and a single knowledge management domain (knowledge application). This singular (non‑pluralistic) approach produces theories about knowledge that has already emerged. Yet the Davenport and Prusak (1998) definition of knowledge and the hospital case study include two other perspectives â€” soft systems and critical systems â€” that focus on the organizational and individual aspects of emergence, respectively. In practice, knowledge management must address the need to simultaneously solve technical problems, resolve interpersonal issues, and dissolve personal conflict. The contribution of the paper is the comparison of knowledge management frameworks on the basis of underlying system perspectives, and the identification, description, and application of some pluralistic frameworks. Each systems perspective constitutes a different discourse on the purposes served by knowledge management, and pluralisms are required to integrate them. Pluralisms constitute both a framework for inquiry in knowledge management and a design theory for collaborative technologies. The review is not exhaustive. It is beyond the scope of this paper to examine the link between the purposes served by knowledge management and the methodology required for development. The paper contributes to the literature that seeks to understand the complexity of knowledge management practice via 'awareness of the potential and the implications of the different discourses in the study of knowledge and knowledge management.'
Keywords: critical systems, foundational theory, Habermasian inquiry, knowledge management, multiple perspectives, power relations, pluralism, scientific discourses, theoretical frameworks