Knowledge management and risk : a case study in Sasol between 2005 and 2009

Mamabolo, Makgontshane Wilfred (2012-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: SUMMARY This research studies the concept of Knowledge Management (KM) in organisations and also its integration with other structures. While KM is seen as being beneficial to organisations, it is of crucial importance for its proponents not to overlook the fact that it may also have disadvantages. There are numerous publications, both scholarly and otherwise, that describe how a well-implemented KM initiative can add value to an enterprise by improving the sharing of information between managers and employees, but the risk factors around instituting KM have not received the same attention. Its proponents have generally inadequately explained how even a “well-implemented” KM initiative can spell disaster for an organisation; KM, like other management theories such as Total Quality Management (TAM), Business Process Re-Engineering (BPR) and others, can and have failed and there needs to be an understanding of why this happens. This research looks at the risk and value issues that come with KM and the various ways in which these risks may be mitigated and the value retained. In particular, the integration of KM with management initiatives like Value Management (V.M) and Risk Management (RM) will be examined. This process is seen as problematic because of the nature of the interrelationship between KM on the one hand and V.M and RM on the other. It is argued that only when organisations fully understand this interrelationship, can they begin to integrate risk and Value Management into their Knowledge Management initiatives. Therefore, the analysis of the relationship between Value Management and Risk Management as semi or fully formalised management processes plays an important part in the research. The study examines cases where V.M and RM have been incorporated in KM implementations in the South African petrochemical industry in an attempt to arrive at a more accurate assessment of this process. The study argues that Knowledge Management can pose a threat to any organisation that does not manage its attendant risks as well as it does its benefits. As an example, this research looks at how knowledge workers can be deployed by knowledge managers to add value to an enterprise without risking the loss of its intellectual capital, for instance when such workers are recruited by competitors. The finding of this thesis are somewhat varied in nature. As far as this research is concerned there are no adequate and streamlined measures taken to analyse risk in SASTECH, particularly Risk that comes with or as a result of Knowledge Management. As a consequence there are no formalised control measures and review processes put into place for monitoring these risks.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie navorsing ondersoek die begrip Kennisbestuur (KM) in organisasies en die integrasie daarvan in ander strukture. KM word beskou as voordelig vir organisasies, maar dit is van kernbelang vir sy voorstaanders om nie uit die oog te verloor dat dit ook nadele mag meebring nie. Daar is talle publikasies, akademies en andersins, wat beskryf hoe ‘n deeglike KM inisiatief waarde kan toe voeg by ‘n onderneming deur die wyse waarop dit die deel van inligting tussen bestuurders en werknemers verbeter; die risikofaktore rondom die instel van KM het egter nie naastenby dieselfde aandag geniet nie. Sy voorstaanders kon gewoonlik nie verklaar hoe selfs ‘n “deeglike” KM inisiatief rampspoedige gevolge vir ‘n organisasie kan hê nie; KM, soos ander bestuursteorieë soos Totale Kwaliteitsbestuur (TQM), Heraanpassing van Sakeprosesse (BPR) en ander, kan en het misluk en die redes daarvoor moet verstaan word. Hierdie navorsing ondersoek die risiko’s en waarde-implikasies van KM en die verskillende maniere waarop hierdie risiko’s beheer kan word. In besonder word die integrasie van KM met bestuursinisiatiewe soos Waardebestuur (V.M) en Risikobestuur (RM) ondersoek. Hierdie proses word as problematies beskou weens die aard van die onderlinge verwantskap tussen KM aan die een kant en V.M en RM aan die ander. Daar word betoog dat slegs wanneer organisasies hierdie onderlinge verwantskap ten volle verstaan, hulle risiko- en waardebestuur in hulle KM-inisiatiewe kan begin integreer. Daarom speel die analise van die verhouding tussen Waardebestuur en Risikobestuur as semi of ten volle geformaliseerde bestuursprosesse 'n belangrike rol in die navorsing. Die studie ondersoek gevalle waar V.M en RM ingelyf is by die implementering van KM in die Suid-Afrikaanse petrochemiese nywerheid ten einde ‘n meer akkurate waardebepaling van hierdie proses te maak. Die studie stel voor dat kennisbestuur ‘n bedreiging kan inhou vir enige organisasie wat nie die meegaande risiko’s ewe goed as die voordele bestuur nie. As praktiese voorbeeld kyk hierdie studie na hoe kenniswerkers deur kennisbestuurders ontplooi kan word om waarde by ‘n onderneming te voeg sonder om die risiko te loop dat hierdie intelektuele kapitaal verlore gaan wanneer sulke werkers byvoorbeeld deur mededingers gewerf word. Die bevindinge opgeteken in hierdie tesis is wisselend van voorkoms. Sover dit hierdie navorsing betref is daar geen voldoende en vaartbelynde maatreëls om risiko in SASTECH, veral Risiko wat afkomstig van Kennisbestuur getref nie. Die gevolg hiervan is dat daar geen formele beheermaatreëls en hersieningsprosesse in plek gesit is vir die monitering van hierdie risiko's nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/71830
This item appears in the following collections: