Management of Knowledge in Project Environments

Kit F. Pun (Professor of Industrial Engineering, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 6 February 2007




Pun, K.F. (2007), "Management of Knowledge in Project Environments", On the Horizon, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 37-38.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

What are the key ideas discussed and how were they articulated?

The material, built on project management researches over the past two decades, highlights KM as the critical factor in guaranteeing a success in projects. It challenges practitioners to address this through information creation, development of learning environments and utilization of past project reflection.

The book delivers the topic areas through individual articles/chapters and can be read in part or entirely. The contributing authors convey their ideas through specific project cases for each article, which provides variety of application of models, surveys and theoretical discussions. In respect of layout, the text comprises eleven (11) chapters, covering:

  1. 1.

    conceptualising and implementing KM;

  2. 2.

    knowledge integration process and dynamics within the context of cross‐functional projects;

  3. 3.

    co‐creation of knowledge by multidisciplinary project teams;

  4. 4.

    influences of knowledge sharing and hoarding in project‐based firms;

  5. 5.

    a community perspective on managing knowledge in project environments;

  6. 6.

    managing knowledge in professional service firms; and international comparison;

  7. 7.

    building a learning environment in a project based environment;

  8. 8.

    reflection, participation and learning in project environments: a multiple perspective agenda;

  9. 9.

    managing projects through reflection;

  10. 10.

    making sense of learning landscapes and project based organizations; and

  11. 11.

    learning from project failure.

The book is comprised of technical and empirical components. Individual chapters follow a logical sequence addressing management tactics and lessons learned in handling project knowledge. Different conceptual and strategy frameworks behind and the implementation issues of KM are discussed.

How do these fit into the KM paradigm and what new things do they offer?

In context of the KM paradigm, the book covers the areas of dynamic work teams and cellular work‐groups capturing, storing, sharing and processing information to form new pragmatic knowledge. The central issue is how to create an environment that can retain, integrate and share relevant pragmatic knowledge to create new knowledge in project organizations. The contributing authors address this by suggesting that learning from project processes and executing related activities from past projects can be used to form data, information and later knowledge in future projects. Moreover, the importance of organizational structure and incentive scheme that can help shape knowledge assets into competencies is stressed.

Consistently, the contributing authors converge at a systematic approach to managing knowledge in project environments. They draw some parallels to Senge's (1990) Fifth Discipline approach to organizational learning, by mentioning; competency development (personal mastery), shared project vision, systems view, reflection (alignment of mental models), and learning from past projects (organizational learning).

What do we find new and what is the significance?

The scope of the book, especially the two introductory chapters and the concluding chapter, broadens its relevance to a wider readership. The book leads the readers to think in a systematic way about knowledge in project scenarios. It enhances practical and conceptual understanding on how to manage it in the complex activity‐intensive environment of project management for a competitive advantage.

One of the most prominent features of the book is the exploration of the subject matter through an adoption of international case studies in project‐based industries such as business, construction, aerospace and high‐tech/information. The contributing authors used practical cases as empirical justification of conceptual frameworks and theories. Besides, they drawn upon specific analytical techniques to give merit to the methodologies adopted in data gathering, models development and conclusions in various chapters. In these instances, one can observe that KM within the project environment was directly intended and as such suggestions and techniques become more real to life.

The book presents a concise development of theories and practices, while narrowly pointing to a few areas for further development. The technical jargons are clearly explained, but interpretation may still be difficult for non‐technical readers. Audiences from out of engineering and research fields may find it difficult to relate to some of KM concepts and cases.

In sum, the book will be of interest to both practitioners and scholars in the management of knowledge in project environments. The present volume makes a great start towards the synthesis with each of its chapters making a thought‐provoking contribution to new research perspective. It provides a balanced and insightful view into a wider range of topics than being usual, and can consequently be highly recommended.


Senge, P.M. (1990), The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation, DoubledayNew York, NY.

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