This paper aims to review the knowledge management (KM) processes, knowledge conversion modes and critical success factors (CSFs) and contextualise them to the construction setting to guide effective KM implementation.
This paper is conceptual in nature. It begins with a review of issues faced by construction organisations, which led them to consider implementing KM. This is followed by a comprehensive review of KM processes, knowledge conversion modes, KM CSFs and their application to the construction industry.
Based on the socialisation, externalisation, combination and internalisation (SECI) model, the knowledge conversion modes are discussed, linking them to the KM processes of knowledge creation, sharing, storage and application. The KM CSFs identified from construction literature suggest that they can be categorised into two groups, namely, factors within organisational control (managerial influence, technological influence and resource influence) and factors beyond organisational control (social influence, political influence, environmental influence, economic influence, industry influence and construction technology influence). The resulting review is discussed in terms of how construction organisations can implement KM effectively to achieve the desired project performance outcomes in terms of time, cost and quality.
Although this paper has made some theoretical contributions, a quantitative analysis will further reinforce its value both in theory and practice, particularly in terms of applying the KM processes and CSFs to different organisational, industry and country settings. A quantitative research is being carried out in the major construction sector in Sri Lanka to establish the relationships between the KM processes, knowledge conversion modes and KM CSFs with project performance outcomes, which will be reported in a subsequent publication.
As the construction industry uses a considerable number of knowledge workers, implementing KM for project planning and execution is the key to sustaining the growth of construction organisations and industry, particularly when KM implementation is linked to project performance outcomes. Practical implications are provided in terms of what successful KM implementation entails.
Effective KM implementation can serve as a conduit for construction organisations to build capacity and develop the ability to react quickly to social challenges brought about by different stakeholders, even before the project commences, so that the project performance outcomes will not be affected. Another social implication is the role played by project team members, in which efforts have to be put in place to facilitate the use of KM processes, so that teams can align project activities to the general good of their organisations.
A comprehensive KM framework that guides the construction industry on KM implementation is long overdue. This research represents the first of such attempts to view KM from a wider perspective, both in terms of internal and external influences affecting construction organisations. Once the conceptual framework developed is validated, it is expected to bring enormous benefits to different stakeholders.
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