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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 11, Issue 6
This issue of Strategic HR Review focuses on the theme of knowledge management. A mix of case studies and best practice guides based on field work addresses knowledge management from an organizational learning perspective, as well as from a cultural context.
The case study feature by James Cullens and Dr Richard J. Waters, “Leadership development as a tool for building expertise and knowledge”, charts a transformation program at Hays plc. New brand values were developed as part of a drive for global growth and refocusing of geographical growth areas. Knowledge development at leadership level and cross-border knowledge transfer were key, and were incorporated into the values through a focus on expertise as a competitive advantage and market differentiator fundamental to the growth strategy. A leadership develop program called Fast Forward was designed to support the strategy by developing different types of knowledge through a variety of HR and L&D processes. A comprehensive and varied approach lifted the leadership knowledge base and resulted in realizing growth objectives.
“Knowledge management – time to focus on purpose and motivation”, by Dr John McGurk and Angela Baron, examines KM and its effectiveness. While recognized as a key driver of organizational growth, the authors argue that KM is often overly focused on systems and structures and not enough on learning, innovation and engagement. They identify three challenges that need to be overcome for KM to contribute to business performance – namely, the vague nature of KM, the strong focus on tracking, capturing and storing knowledge, and a lack of organizational focus and purpose when it comes to KM. The authors believe that a focus on learning, innovation and engagement – and the associated core HR processes – will help develop a business rationale for KM, provide employees with motivation to share knowledge and, as a result, lead to sustainable organizational performance. Their argument is based on over a decade of experience and research from within the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, as well as external research sources.
In “Organizational culture: a HR strategy for successful knowledge management”, Sachin K. Patil and Ravi Kant investigate the impact of HR strategy, and in particular organizational culture, on knowledge management processes. Using a case study format, they identify HR strategies relating to organizational culture that help overcome barriers to poor knowledge management and improve knowledge accumulation, sharing and utilization. Through the case study, the authors aim to establish the link between organizational culture and improved knowledge management, which together benefit organizational performance. While many associate knowledge management with technology, the authors argue that there should be a focus on creating a knowledge friendly environment through HR strategies relating to areas such as structure, communication, hierarchy and training.
“Learning to lead the knowledgeable organization: developing leadership agility”, by Professor Jane McKenzie and Dr Paul Aitken, examines knowledge management within a changing and complex environment. There are many challenges involved in balancing change with knowledge and learning; for example, knowing when current knowledge becomes obsolete, making sense of evolving objectives and handling disruption to existing networks and relationships. The author outlines 12 agile leadership practices to help organizations through change while fostering a positive approach to knowledge sharing, learning and collaboration. The identification of these practices is the result of a combination of knowledge management research, leadership and change management expertise, and collaborative research involving 14 large organizations. The practices are mutually supportive and focus on creating an environment that is conducive to learning against a backdrop of organizational conflict and tension. As they are learned capabilities, they can form the basis for middle management development to create an agile leadership pipeline.
The focus moves to knowledge creation in Mark E. Haskins’ paper, “Partnering with your leadership development provider: seven worst practices”, in which he shares the seven worst practices associated with the design and delivery of customized professional development programs. With business commentators observing that HR professionals are approaching business schools with budgets to spend, the aim of this article is to help such professionals get value for money by avoiding common pitfalls. The author specifically addresses those looking at investing in residential, offsite, custom, executive education programs and calls on extensive field work to identify the seven worst practices. In doing so he hopes to help HR practitioners maximize subject matter learning, but also to gain motivational, cultural and personal benefits from effective knowledge development and implementation.
Sara NolanE-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org