As organisations and managers start to realise the strategic value of knowledge within their organisation, several attempts have been made to implement Knowledge Management (KM) within these organisations. The standard approach, which leads to the failure of KM initiatives, is to view KM as a type of technological implementation while failing to realise that the organisation needs to facilitate a KM-friendly environment. Organisations that have successfully implemented KM within their boundaries, structure and scope have developed unique and organisation-specific KM implementations, making it difficult for the success factors associated with these implementations to be transferred to other organisations. As a result, researchers and authors have attempted to develop an ontological or taxonomical mechanism that would assist in the sharing of knowledge within and across organisational boundaries. Due to the organisational specialisation of these mechanisms, these attempts have for the most part been unsuccessful.
This study presents foundational work that can be used within an organisation to develop KM initiatives. By focusing on the language used by KM researchers and KM practitioners working with and practising KM within organisations, the author identified multiple terms and concepts that represent the fundamental building blocks of KM. If these building blocks are applied appropriately between different organisations, they can assist in the development of a KM initiative. The identified fundamental building blocks offer a starting point for the development of a KM initiative. As the study focuses on organisational KM needs, these building blocks may be used to implement a KM initiative that would satisfy an organisation‘s KM needs.
The goal of this study is therefore to identify the fundamental building blocks of KM that, when applied constructively, would assist the KM practitioner in satisfying an organisation‘s KM needs. In order to achieve this goal, the research focused on the following objectives (as reflected in the research question, subquestions and chapter division):
To identify why there is a need for KM within organisations, and how it has been addressed in research, KM initiatives and organisations.
To clearly delineate the concepts of Knowledge, Management and KM that can be applied in relationship with the process of organisational management.
To identify organisational KM needs as linked to a generic organisation that is associated with a system interacting with its environment (gaining or losing knowledge due to the system‘s nature).
To identify KM‘s fundamental building blocks associated with the language used by KM researchers and practitioners.
To represent the identified fundamental KM building blocks that can be applied to a generic organisation to satisfy organisational KM needs.
As a result of the discussion, review and study conducted for this thesis, the author found specific dimensions pertaining to the fundamental building blocks of KM that satisfy organisational needs.
It was established that there is a clear need for organisational KM in an effort to retain and manage knowledge resources to the benefit of the organisation. This highlighted the need for organisational KM, outlining possible solutions plus concerns found in previous research. It was found that although there is a need for organisational KM, this need has been poorly addressed thus far. Based on the discussion and findings in this thesis, it was found that there is a clear distinction between the concepts of Knowledge, Management and KM and it was found that KM provides support for the day-to-day management processes to which it is aligned. This highlighted the nature of Knowledge, Management and KM by redefining the construct of KM based on core considerations related to the concepts of Knowledge and Management and the critical interaction between the two.
It was found that due to the systemic nature of an organisation, knowledge dissipates into the organisational environment. KM is essential to minimise this effect. Furthermore, organisational KM needs can be satisfied by applying the fundamental building blocks of KM during the implementation of an organisational KM initiative.
After analysing the lexicon used by KM practitioners, the building blocks of KM were clearly highlighted by comparing patterns presented within the results analysed for this study.
The final objective highlights and represents the fundamental building blocks of KM that satisfy organisational KM needs as clearly identified from the language used by KM practitioners. By extending this study to the language used by KM practitioners as formulated within communities of practice in describing KM, the results of this study link directly to not only what KM theoretically appears to be, but also to how KM is viewed by people who work within the KM and knowledge environment on a day-to-day basis.