Vindicating the fads : a study of the contribution of some late 20th century business management methods to the growth of intellectual capital in the organisation

Fogell, Marion (2007-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Information Science. Information and Knowledge Management))--Unkiversity of Stellenbosch, 2007.


Quality management, business process engineering and other business management change tools of the late 20th century are often denigrated in knowledge management literature as fads, with no permanent value. Other authors credit these tools with being predecessors of knowledge management. The objective of this assignment is to investigate the origins, theory and practice of some of the process and technology-oriented fads, and to assess the extent to which they build the intellectual capital of the organisation and therefore can be classed as knowledge management tools. The time period covered by the study is 1960 – 1999, with most emphasis on the period 1975 – 1995. This starting point has been selected because it coincides with maturation of business management as a science, evolving from economic and social science theories; wide acceptance of Penrose’s resource-based theories and early proliferation of information systems in business. The end point has been selected because it coincides with expansion of the global network – based on embedded information technologies, the Internet and the World Wide Web; diffusion of on-line, real-time, end-user-controlled computing and the maturity of knowledge management as a discipline. This assignment starts with a study of the historical origins and development of business management theory, including the evolution of business management as a science, the study of organisational behaviour, the development of strategic, environmental, competitive and internal analysis techniques. This is followed by a brief assessment of most important changes in the business environment during the period under review, including the adoption of information technology, and the development of globalisation An overview of several changes in business management in the period surveyed – including strategic management, organisational structure, information orientation, organisational learning, excellence, collaboration and innovation - is followed by more detailed reviews of two of the new methods (fads): quality management and business process reengineering and management. An introduction to intellectual capital, including some approaches to classifying and measuring it, is followed by evidence linking intellectual assets to knowledge resources, and that these resources are managed with knowledge management. This is followed by a presentation of evidence of the contribution of various fads to knowledge and knowledge management, with reference to reference models developed by Skyrme (1999) and Botha and Fouché (2002). By relating intellectual capital to knowledge, the author demonstrates that many of these fads have in fact provided a solid foundation for knowledge management.

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