The expanding world of knowledge management

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 5 June 2007



Chase, R.L. (2007), "The expanding world of knowledge management", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 11 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The expanding world of knowledge management

The expanding world of knowledge management

The first paper in this issue examines knowledge leadership cycles based on Nonaka’s understanding of knowledge creation in Japanese firms. Maria Sarabia identifies two leadership cycles according to how a change in leaders is handled and how every leader establishes his/her own knowledge cycle (either knowledge amplification or knowledge modulation). The knowledge amplification leadership cycle is found in many Western organizations, where explicit knowledge prevails and the new leader merely “amplifies” the previous leader’s knowledge strategy. The Knowledge Modulation Cycle is found in many Japanese organizations, where tacit knowledge prevails and the new leader is able to generate new knowledge, thereby establishing his own leadership position. The author notes that it is very important for an organization to be aware of these two leadership cycles and their affect on organizational innovation and knowledge creation.

Pasi Pyöriä observes that all advanced economies are increasingly dependent on a highly educated and knowledgeable workforce. The author states that it is justifiable to make the generalization that innovative and creative potential is the key to success in the knowledge economy. There is a growing consensus that the wealth of a nation depends neither on abundant natural resources nor capital, but rather on firm-level knowledge, i.e. the intellectual capability of individual workers and the skills with which organizations harness and develop this asset. In keeping with this trend, the demand for knowledge workers who are capable of handling, synthesizing and creating new knowledge has increased, while the requirement for traditional manual work, susceptible to being replaced by automation and mechanization, has declined. Despite this consensus, however, definitions of knowledge work abound. The purpose of this article is to identify and deconstruct the most recurrent themes in the ongoing debate and thus help pave the way for more detailed research.

Nick Bontis and Alexander Serenko propose and empirically test a model that attempts to explain employee capabilities from the knowledge-based perspective. In this model, human capital management practices are employed as a moderator variable. The model was tested through a survey of 14,769 current employees of a major North American financial services institution. Findings provide support for the proposed model and show that employee capabilities depend upon his or her training and development as well as job satisfaction levels. Job satisfaction, in turn, is affected by training and development, pay satisfaction, supervisor satisfaction, and job insecurity. These relationships are moderated by employee perceptions of human capital management practices. The model exhibits the highest predictive power when the employee perceptions of human capital management practices are also high.

The paper by Julia Connell and Ranjit Voola investigates the influence of a relationship marketing orientation within a strategic alliance to determine whether alliance firms achieve synergy in knowledge sharing or whether they operate as knowledge silos. The authors take a strategic perspective and propose a model based on the resource-based view of the firm in order to discover whether member firms can move alliance relationships towards knowledge sharing experienced within long-term and continuing relationships. The results of this study reveal that intangible assets, such as relationships and knowledge, should be managed by an alliance with the same care as would be undertaken with tangible assets. Further, the development of a relationship market orientation (RMO) by an alliance appears to be crucial. First, for the alliance members in their pursuit of competitive advantage, and second, as knowledge integration partially mediates the relationship between RMO and competitive advantage.

Although much has been written about what communities of practice (CoPs) are, formal research of CoPs and their impact on organizations has been limited, both in the way of identifying results and in the research method used. This research project is based on a qualitative case study that involved actual CoP experiences of 15 different organizations. Based on the results of the study, Edurne Loyarte and Olga Rivera created a “cultivation” model of CoPs, which includes the following phases: the analysis of CoPs in organization; the analysis of CoPs’ necessity in organizations based on different motivations; the analysis of the appropriate CoPs in each organization; and the evaluation model for the integrated CoPs. The last phase was designed to detect whether the CoPs “cultivation” was valid for the pursued objectives. The main contribution of this research project is the development of a valid and sustainable “cultivation” model of CoPs in any organization.

Thomas W. Jackson observes that there has been very little work done in the application of autopoietic theory to knowledge management. He attempts to remedy this situation by first breaking down the theory of autopoiesis into comparable sections. Next he describes the theory of social constructivism in relation to knowledge management, followed by a comparison of the two. The author reports strong correlations between autopoiesis and knowledge management, specifically the cyclical nature of organizational learning and its ability to self-reproduce the components of its system suggest that it is in some respects an autopoietic entity. However, serious flaws also were discovered.

Tacit knowledge sharing, the self-efficacy theory and application to the Open Source community have been studied by Megan Lee Endres et al. Through a synthesis of different streams of literature, the authors have concluded that the self-efficacy model serves as a useful framework for better understanding the effects of context on tacit knowledge sharing. They also conclude that the Open Source community may provide an ideal set of subjects for whom the model can be applied.

Keedong Yoo, Euiho Suh and Kyoung-Yun Kim suggest a method to redesign business processes from the viewpoint of knowledge flows using a knowledge map. The methodology consists of business process knowledge mapping, knowledge profiling, knowledge flow identification, knowledge flow optimization, and TO-BE process visualization. Besides the methodology, the authors propose ten guidelines for knowledge flow optimization.

Jina Kang has investigated the impact of knowledge characteristics (i.e. source of knowledge, frequency of contact, tacitness) and relationship ties on project performance. Interviews with project managers in a knowledge-intensive firm provided the data. The results show that project performance of the studied firm was positively related to the frequency and “closeness” of the knowledge source. On the other hand, and against the prevalent view, the knowledge source and the level of tacitness of the knowledge element were not found to be significant.

The paper by Sung-kwan Kim and Silvana Trimi reveals the underlying components of information technology (IT) that support different models of knowledge management (KM). The authors developed four knowledge models, based on the knowledge type and service type, for the management consulting industry. Data were collected from 115 management consulting firms through a survey. Regardless of the type of KM model utilized, the authors report that the most widely used information technology was related to the world wide web (e-mail, internet and search engine). The second important IT component was data management technology (document management, data warehousing, data mining, knowledge repositories, and database management). The third important IT component was collaborating technology (videoconferencing, workflow management, groupware, group decision support systems, and knowledge maps). The least important IT component was artificial intelligence (expert systems, case-based reasoning systems, intelligent agent, and neural networks).

Alexandre Perrin, Nicolas Rolland and Tracy Stanley examine the intra-firm transfer of best practices, focusing on the case of a global travel technology firm. The authors report that the study strongly affirms existing findings within the literature regarding the critical importance of face-to-face interaction in knowledge transfer. Additionally, the study has observed limitations in the existing literature with regards to the language used for discussing barriers or resistance to knowledge transfer. It is suggested that the language currently used in the literature is influenced by an attitude that sees factors limiting knowledge transfer from a negative perspective. This attitude implies a resistance to knowledge transfer, as something to be overcome or defeated. The authors propose a positive viewpoint – to respect the personal filtering and decision-making processes that all managers possess, and to encourage them to take the seeds of the ideas within the practice and tailor it to reflect their unique market circumstances.

Rory L. Chase

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