Creating a knowledge management culture

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Running Head: CREATING A KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT CULTURE

Creating a Knowledge Management Culture: The Role of Task, Structure, Technology and People in Encouraging Knowledge Creation and Transfer

Tracy A. Hurley and Carolyn W. Green
Texas A&M University-Kingsville, San Antonio
1400 W. Villaret
San Antonio, TX 78224
210-921-5559
thurley@tamuk.edu
carolyn.green@tamuk.edu
Creating aKnowledge Management Culture: The Role of Task, Structure, Technology and People in Encouraging Knowledge Creation and Transfer

Abstract
Knowledge Management (KM) has been discussed as being a critical component in an organization's ability to sustain a long-term competitive advantage. Although numerous research studies suggest components of an effective KM program, few test the models proposed.This study uses Leavitt's (1965) model of organizational change as a framework to assess the components necessary to develop and sustain an effective KM culture. A factor analysis supports the importance of Leavitt's four factors -- task, structure, technology, and people - as contributing significantly to a KM culture. In addition, construct validity of a KM culture was also found.
Creating aKnowledge Management Culture: The Role of Task, Structure, Technology and People in Encouraging Knowledge Creation and Transfer

Knowledge Management (KM) has been defined as “…the process by which an organization creates, captures, acquires, and uses knowledge to support and improve the performance of the organization (Kinney, 1998). KM has recently been discussed in several key articles(Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Nonaka, Toyama, & Konno, 2001; and Grant, 2001). KM processes can be broadly characterized as consisting of knowledge creation activities and knowledge transfer activities. Interest in KM has grown because of the belief that the creation and transfer of knowledge is essential to long-term organizational effectiveness.
Knowledge Creation and Transfer
Polanyi (1964)defines knowledge as either explicit or tacit. Explicit knowledge can be expressed in numbers and words. These are then easily shared formally and systematically in the form of data, specifications, manuals, etc. Tacit knowledge, on the other hand, includes insights, intuition, and hunches – which are often difficult to formalize and share. Explicit-knowledge transfer is a relatively commonoccurrence. Employees share reports, financial budgets, policies, etc. Tacit knowledge, however, needs to be converted into explicit knowledge in order for this sharing to take place. This needs to be done without losing critical parts of the tacit knowledge. Nonaka (1994) identifies four possible methods for tacit knowledge to become explicit knowledge: socialization, externalization,internalization, and combination.
1. Socialization is the sharing of tacit knowledge between individuals, usually through joint activities rather than written or verbal instructions. This is one of the primary teaching methods underlying the concept of apprenticeships and mentorships. Both apprenticeships and mentorships allow newcomers to see the way others think (Becerra-Fernandez & Sabherwal, 2001).2. Externalization involves the expression of tacit knowledge and its conversion into comprehensible forms that are easier to understand (Becerra-Fernandez & Sabherwal, 2001). Externalization involves techniques that help to express ideas or images as words or visual concepts (Nonaka, 1994). For example, conventional learning methodologies require the externalization of the professor’sknowledge as the initial step in the student’s learning process (Raelin, 1997).
3. Internalization is the conversion of explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge. This requires the individual to identify relevant knowledge within the organization’s explicit knowledge, embrace it as their own, and incorporate it into their own knowledge base. This is the learning theory behind “on-the-job training”...
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