Can Soft Systems Methodology Identify Socio-Technical Barriers to Knowledge Sharing and Management?: A Case Study from the UK National Health Service

Can Soft Systems Methodology Identify Socio-Technical Barriers to Knowledge Sharing and Management?: A Case Study from the UK National Health Service

Alan C. Gillies (University of Central Lancashire, UK) and Jeanette Galloway (North Mersey Health Informatics Service, UK)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/jkm.2008100106
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Abstract

Nonaka (1998) argued that for companies to prosper they must move away from a view of organizations as information processing entities with a focus on formal and systematic knowledge to exploit tacit knowledge. Much of the subsequent literature relates to commercial companies, often in North America. Public services in the UK are undergoing rapid change to improve cost effectiveness, customer focus and improve outcomes. Reports such as Wanless (2002, 2004) Wanless et al. (2007), Protti (2002) and Gray (2007) argue that this requires a more intelligent use of knowledge and information. However, authors such as Avison and Wood-Harper, (1990) have long argued that systems to support such information-based innovations are context dependent and should be viewed as socio-technical systems rather than simply technological systems. This study uses Checkland’s (1999) soft systems methodology (SSM) to consider the local factors operating within a case study from a local NHS health informatics service organization to assess the need to take account of local factors when applying knowledge management techniques in such cases, with a particular focus on managing the tacit knowledge components, highlighted by Nonaka.

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