The main purpose of this paper is to present the findings of a survey carried out in Southern African Development Community (SADC) universities to explore their knowledge portal practices and ignite debate on best practices regarding the importance, design and management of knowledge portals in developing world contexts.
The main data collection instrument was a questionnaire which was largely quantitative except one question was qualitative for additional comments.
The major finding of this study is that only one out of ten participating universities had a knowledge portal. Furthermore, what other participating universities have in place as web sites can only be described realistically as “extended web sites”.
Initially, the main purpose of this study was to explore SADC university knowledge portals and based on the findings ascertain the best practices prevailing among SADC universities. This purpose could not be fully achieved as most SADC participating universities do not have knowledge portals. Instead, they have extended web sites; hence, most responses are based on university extended web sites. Thus, the study reports on one case of a knowledge portal and describes how “extended web sites” might fit as foundational knowledge portals. Since the study was limited in its sample size (ten universities), it has implications for generalisation of the research findings.
This paper provides a theoretical framework for designing an effective university knowledge portal and creates the awareness of the importance of knowledge portals in universities. Also, the paper fills a gap in the literature on knowledge portals, and clarifies the difference between a knowledge portal and a web site.
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