Volume 8 Issue 3 / Nov 2010 pp267‑344
Keywords: action research, case study, codification and personalization knowledge management strategies, collaborative projects, components of tacit knowledge, critical knowledge factors, design re-use, engineering design, ethnographic study, evidence-based medical practice., explicit and tacit knowledge forms, explicit knowledge, fixture and tooling, knowledge assets management, knowledge based systems, knowledge capital, knowledge integration, knowledge map, nature of tacit knowledge, new product development, organizational culture, performance improvement, research centre, social capital, tacit knowledge,
Collaborative projects are increasingly common today and such projects require specialized knowledge of the partners to be integrated, therefore posing the challenge of inter‑organizational knowledge integration; integrating diverse knowledge bases across organizations. Studies on knowledge integration and inter‑organizational networks indicate the positive influence of social capital in the context. Since partners in a collaborative project are likely to possess this resource due to their partnership, a knowledge integration view is adopted to conduct an empirical investigation of a three‑partner collaborative project to investigate the influence of social capital. The study shows how the different aspects of social capital influence the knowledge integration behaviour of the partners for the project. Implications to research and practice are discussed.
Evidence‑based medicine has greatly influenced decisions and actions throughout the health care industry for a couple of decades, particularly in the advanced countries. However, little is known as to how patients with their tacit knowledge have fitted into the evidence‑based medical practice equation especially in the developing world, hence the need for this study. The combined use of the theory of communicative action and the AGIL taxonomy of adaptation, goal attainment, integration, and latent pattern maintenance by Talcott Parsons served as the theoretical framework for the study. The theory of communicative action provided the benchmark in understanding how doctors and patients are motivated to adapt and integrate the explicit and tacit knowledge forms in attaining the goal of quality evidence‑based medical practice in line with the AGIL taxonomy. The qualitative interviews with fifty respondents ‑ twenty doctors and thirty patients ‑ in the central region of Ghana are utilized as the data base for the discussion. The study concludes that at present patients’ tacit knowledge does not matter in the practice of evidence‑based medicine in Ghana. This situation has to be addressed by empowering patients to be actively involved in clinical decision‑making affecting their health. This is critical because effective implementation of evidence‑based medical practice demands a good blend of explicit and tacit knowledge forms possessed by doctors and patients respectively. It is believed that embracing this strategy of managing knowledge in the health care dispensation holds the potential to bring about improved health care outcomes.
Keywords: knowledge management, explicit and tacit knowledge forms, codification and personalization knowledge management strategies, evidence-based medical practice
In the Knowledge Based Economy, research centres whether industrial or public, play a fundamental role. In terms of Knowledge Management, these organisations have a special status, because their production is knowledge and only knowledge. The Knowledge Capital they accumulate in their activities therefore is a strong strategic issue and the management of these assets has become crucial. The problem addressed in this paper is to design a pertinent methodology for Knowledge Management considering the specificity of knowledge production by research centres. This methodology is based on a suitable model to describe that knowledge production. The reference model is built on knowledge flows between the organisation and its knowledge workers, and a subsystem called “Knowledge Capital”. A research centre is defined by the fact that its product is only knowledge and is accumulated in its knowledge subsystem. Some economical characteristics of this Knowledge Capital are shown as being very adapted to knowledge produced in research centres. The methodology is based on two tools. The first tool is the knowledge map that can represent a comprehensive model of the Knowledge Capital of the organisation, which is often not well known or unstructured. That map is built on a shared and consensual vision of the main knowledge actors. It is not a map produced by a knowledge tool, but a co‑construction (through interviews) with the knowledge actors. The second tool is a grid for criticality analysis (Critical Knowledge Factors), which evaluates the knowledge domains of the organisation and suggests appropriate actions to be put in place for the most critical domains. This tool is a guide for interviewing knowledgeable actors in the organisation, to collect and analyse a set of data for decision support. The aim of the methodology is to provide a set of recommendations to build a KM plan of actions to preserve, share and make evolve the Knowledge Capital. The methodology has been elaborated through constant feed‑back with practice, and has been validated in many real cases in various countries. Three case studies (France, Brazil, and Canada) are succinctly described to exemplify the effectiveness of the methodology.
Keywords: knowledge management, knowledge capital, research centre, knowledge map, critical knowledge factors
Is Tacit Knowledge Really Tacit? pp307‑318
The aim of this article is to increase understanding of tacit knowledge as a phenomenon and also, to specify and understand tacit knowledge of an expert in a given context. In the discourse of organizational behavior, the use of the concept of tacit knowledge and empirical scientific research on it has become more popular only in the 1990s. The strong increase in expert work and knowledge‑intensive fields make examining the topic timely and both theoretically and practically interesting. The most significant theoretical contribution of the study is the increase in understanding, as well as, the creation of new knowledge of the contents and the nature of tacit knowledge. Based on our study, it seems that the current division of knowledge to explicit and tacit is not sufficient to describe the phenomenon. It has been proposed that explicit knowledge is visible and “articulated” knowledge that can easily be transferred and codified, e.g., through speech, documents and various information management systems. Implicit knowledge, on the other hand, is “silent”, hidden and non‑verbal knowledge that is difficult or even impossible to transfer and express verbally. We propose that tacit knowledge comprises different components, some of which can be articulated and made explicit. Examples of such are individual’s or organizations accustomed lines of action that are based on explicit instructions. On the other hand, individual‑specific tacit knowledge that includes feelings, emotions and intuition, individual’s intuitive behaviour or personal relationships, can be considered as “the genuine tacit knowledge” in the sense that it cannot be made visible or transferred. These findings suggest that the interconnectedness of explicit and tacit knowledge ought to be examined further.
Keywords: tacit knowledge, nature of tacit knowledge, components of tacit knowledge, explicit knowledge, organizational culture, case study
This paper describes and reflects on the implementation of a Knowledge Based Holistic Design Support System – termed “HolD” – into a business environment. The paper introduces the rationale and development behind the system, a consciously different approach to traditional knowledge based systems in engineering in order to meet the requirements of a small business, producing bespoke low volume products. Typical knowledge based engineering systems rely on explicitly codified knowledge which often supports product optimisation rather than creative design activities. Such a system would provide little benefit to a business producing bespoke products. Instead, the system presented here, supports the creativity of designers through codified tacit knowledge input by designers as meta‑data for past designs. The problem of individual inertia in adopting the system and sharing knowledge was approached early in the construction of the system. The steps taken to lower user barriers and encourage day‑to‑day use are detailed, including the design of a multi‑stage input process designed to interact at key stages of users' existing processes. The immediate results after a six month trial period are presented and the results show slower than anticipated usage. In particular designers were found to be reluctant to input detailed information beyond common identifying data and did not attempt to seek information from the system. The reasons for this slower usage are discussed and possible solutions presented. The paper therefore provides industrial based evidence of the inertia encountered when implementing a knowledge system and argues that technology alone is insufficient to overcome this inertia.
Keywords: engineering design, knowledge based systems, ethnographic study, fixture and tooling, design re-use
The Knowledge‑Based Foundations of Organisational Performance Improvements: An Action Research Approach pp333‑344
The strategic and management literature grounded on the resource and knowledge based view of the firm, has widely outlined the importance of knowledge assets in a company’s value creation. However, despite acknowledgment of the strategic relevance of knowledge assets and their management for driving organizational performance improvement, there is still a lack of suitable approaches to disentangle, explain and assess how knowledge assets support the achievement of a company’s strategic outcomes. The paper investigates the role and relevance of knowledge assets in a company’s performance improvement and provides some approaches, tools and managerial suggestions regarding the leveraging knowledge assets as value drivers for improving organisational performance. Methodology: The study is based on action research methodology. Findings: This paper highlights the role and relevance of knowledge assets as critical factors to manage for improving a company’s performance. In particular, integrating the results of an action research project with the main insights from a literature review, the paper provides some approaches, tools and managerial suggestions mainly regarding: i) the identification and mapping of knowledge assets to be managed in order to improve performances; ii) the choice and the design of knowledge assets management initiatives; iii) the evaluation of the performance improvement gained by the implementation of knowledge assets management initiatives. Research limitations: The paper investigates the leveraging knowledge assets for a company’s performance improvement in a specific context of analysis, i.e. the New Product Development (NPD) process. In order to have a more holistic view of the interactions between knowledge assets and company’s value creation mechanisms, an extension of the investigation to other organisational processes is required. Moreover, to generalise the research’s results, several applications in different industries and the use of different research methodologies are required. Practical implications: The paper, on the basis of theoretical and empirical insights, provides four managerial practices which managers might use in order to design and implement knowledge assets management initiatives aimed to support the improvement of company’s performances. Originality/value: The paper provides more light on how knowledge assets and complementarities among them enhance organization’s performances and provides approaches, tools and managerial suggestions for supporting managers in developing and leveraging knowledge assets. Especially the proposed approaches and tools intended to provide managers with information to assist them to allocate their managerial efforts to the knowledge assets with significant impact on performance.
Keywords: knowledge assets, new product development, performance improvement, knowledge assets management, action research.