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Top management's perception of knowledge management in a vocational education and training organization in Finland

Pirjo Syysnummi (Department of Information Management and Logistics, Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland)
Harri Laihonen (Department of Information Management and Logistics, Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 7 January 2014

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report top management's view of knowledge management in an educational organization. The paper also recognizes the main knowledge-based development areas. The aim of this paper is to bridge a knowledge gap regarding managerial processes that support teachers in their diverse knowledge tasks; gathering, creating, sharing and explicating knowledge.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative case approach was applied to uncover the knowledge processes of a vocational education organization in Finland. The empirical data were gathered in two phases. First, the existing knowledge needs of management team members were mapped by an e-mail enquiry. Second, a group interview was held with the same management team. Interview themes were derived from the literature and from the first empirical phase. The interview data are discussed and analyzed in light of the knowledge-based management literature.

Findings

The results of the study indicate that knowledge management is so closely related to education organizations’ value creation processes that it should be considered an essential part of modern educational management. Based on this notion the paper argues that more emphasis is needed especially on mastering knowledge that relates to the education function and the creation of enabling knowledge structures that support this function.

Practical implications

The paper provides practitioners with a basic understanding about the existing knowledge-based management processes in education organizations. It also turns the focus onto knowledge usage instead of mere information provision. Furthermore, the paper provides a basis for a systematic modeling and development of knowledge integration and coordination in educational organizations.

Originality/value

The paper links knowledge management activities to the value creation processes of education services. Whereas the existing educational management literature seems to consider knowledge management mainly as a support function, the discussion presented here makes it the main focus and argues that for knowledge-intensive education organizations it should form an essential part of their strategic management.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the representatives of the Pirkanmaa Adult Education Institute for their input needed in the empirical part of the study.

Citation

Syysnummi, P. and Laihonen, H. (2014), "Top management's perception of knowledge management in a vocational education and training organization in Finland", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 53-65. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-04-2013-0067

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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