Knowledge creation and transfer : implications for knowledge management in parliamentary service

Manele, Thembile Moses (2005)

On title page: Master of Philosophy (Decision Making, Knowledge Dynamics and Values).

Thesis (MPhil) Stellenbosch University, 2005

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Knowledge based organisations must continually create, share, and capture knowledge in order to improve performance. This demand for performance improvement has now also reached the public sector. The Parliamentary Service responded to this demand by contracting consultants to design systems, policies and strategies in areas such as performance management, information technology, human resource management, financial resource management, training and development. Against this background, a case study was conducted within the Parliamentary Service to explore how organizational knowledge is created and transferred in practice. The theoretical lens for this case study is Nonaka's knowledge spiral, which puts emphasis on the creation, codification and diffusion of knowledge. The study explores processes and mechanisms of creating, transferring and capturing knowledge. This is done through the examination of strategies and systems for codifying tacit knowledge and storing that codified knowledge. Thereafter technological, cultural and organizational barriers that inhibit these efforts at sharing and storage of knowledge are identified. In the light of the above, implications for managing organizational knowledge are outlined. Lastly recommendations are made on how tacit and explicit knowledge could be efficiently managed within the sections and divisions of the Parliamentary Service. Data was gathered through interviews, observation and an analysis of organizational documents. These demonstrate that through the contracting of consultants and the involvement of internal stakeholders, parliamentary service has made remarkable progress in creating, sharing, and codifying knowledge of the performance management system at individual, group and organizational levels. This progress was made as the result of the institutionalization of a performance management forum, the use of workshops, the training of trainers and staff, the publications of newsletters, the development of manuals and the writing and submission of reports. However, it was also found that there are certain technological, cultural and organizational barriers to effective knowledge management. These include the lack of electronic databases, a culture of hoarding knowledge and the fact that knowledge management roles are not assigned. Based on the analysis of these technological, cultural and organizational barriers the -- study makes six recommendations for the management of organizational knowledge within the parliamentary service. These recommendations deal with the following issues: The codification of tacit knowledge, the creation of a knowledge repository, the promotion of a knowledge sharing culture, the institutionalization of knowledge sharing incentives, the establishment of a knowledge management unit, and the appointment of a chief knowledge officer.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Kennisgebaseerde orgamsas1es moet aaneenlopend kennis skep, deel en kodifiseer om kompeterend te bly. Kennisgebaseerde prestasie-verbetering word toenemend 'n prioriteit in die openbare sektor. Die Parlementere Diensafdeling het, in 'n poging om prestasie te verbeter, konsultante gekontrakteer om sisteme, beleide en strategiee te ontwerp in areas soos prestasie-bestuur, informasie tegnologie, menslike hulpbronbestuur, finansiele bestuur, en opleiding en ontwikkeling. 'n Gevallestudie in die Parlementere Diensafdeling is teen hierdie agtergrond geloods om uit te vind hoe organisatoriese kennis in die praktyk geskep en oorgedra word. Die teoretiese lens vir hierdie gevallestudie is N onaka se kennis-spiraal, wat die skep, kodifiseer en deel van kennis benadruk. Die studie verken die prosesse en meganismes vir die skep en oordrag van kennis. Dit word gedoen deur die strategiee en sisteme vir die kodifisering van verswee kennis (tacit knowledge) en die stoor van die eksplisiete kennis (explicit knowledge) te ondersoek. Daama word die tegnologiese, kulturele en organisatoriese hindemisse wat die pogings tot die skep en deel van kennis frustreer gei"dentifiseer. In die lig van bogenoemde word implikasies vir die bestuur van kennis uitgestippel. Laastens word voorstelle gemaak vir die bestuur van kennis in spesifiek die Parlementere Diensafdeling. Data vir die studie is verkry deur onderhoude, observasie en die analise van organisatoriese dokumente. Hierdie demonstreer dat die Parlementere Diensafdeling, deur die kontraktering van konsultante en die betrek van interne belangehebbers, wel daarin geslaag het om kennis rondom die prestasiebesuurstelsel te skep, te deel en te kodifiseer op individuele, groep en organisasie vlak. Dit is hoofsaaklik toe te skryf aan die institusionalisering van 'n prestasiebestuursforum, die gebruik van werkswinkels, die opleiding van personeel, die publikasie van nuusbriewe, die ontwikkeling van handboeke en die skryf en indiening van verslae. Dit is egter ook gevind dat daar sekere tegnologiese, kulturele en organisatoriese hindemisse tot effektiewe kennisbestuur in die Parlementere Diensafdeling is. Hierdie sluit in die gebrek aan 'n elektroniese databasis, 'n kultuur van kennis-opgaarding, en die feit dat kennisbestuursrolle nie toegeken word nie. Die studie maak dan ses voorstelle vir die bestuur van organisatoriese kennis binne die Parlementere Diensafdeling gebaseer op die analise van hierdie tegnologiese, kulturele en organisatoriese faktore. Hierdie voorstelle gaan oor die volgende kwessies: Die kodifisering van verswee kennis (tacit knowledge), die skep van 'n kennis poel (knowledge repository), die bevordering van 'n kultuur van kennis deel, die institusionalisering van kennis insentiewe, die vestiging van 'n kennisbestuursafdeling, en die aanstelling van 'n Hoof Kennis Beampte (Chief Knowledge Officer).

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