Creating and Sustaining Meta Organizational Memory: A Case Study

Creating and Sustaining Meta Organizational Memory: A Case Study

Susan G. McIntyre (Defence R&D, Canada)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-540-5.ch013
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Abstract

The case study of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological-Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Research and Technology Initiative (CRTI), a Canadian government meta-organizational collaborative initiative, is presented. Multiple federal departments and agencies have a joint responsibility for creating a knowledge base and a national memory for the purposes of protecting the country against CBRNE threats posed by terrorists. The conditions of a meta-organization present particular opportunities and challenges for organizational learning and organizational memory. Organizational learning and knowledge management theory provide the premises for addressing these issues. An intentional knowledge management strategy has been instrumental in organizational learning, resulting in a knowledge base for a collective organizational memory. Ongoing challenges are being addressed by the strategy.
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Introduction

Consider the dangers and implications of organizational memory loss during a future national security event in which many organizations would have to collaborate to protect the citizens and infrastructure of a country:

After years of international harmony and no overt terrorist activity, a credible and serious threat is received. The national security community goes into high alert and wants expert advice on how to counter and respond to the potential use of weapons of mass destruction. But, after these many years of peace, the research program that had studied these threats has been terminated for lack of perceived threat. The senior scientific experts have retired and the younger scientists have shifted their focus to new domains. The captured knowledge of the program sits somewhere in electronic file cabinets, inaccessible to the remaining subject experts, unknown to new researchers, and in danger of disappearing altogether. Operational planners and responders use their depleted knowledge as best they can to execute their plans. But they are constrained by their limited access to what was once a solid base of expertise, knowledge and understanding of the scientific and technical details of these weapons.

This is a nightmare scenario that would be disastrous and inevitably lead to unnecessary hardship for the citizens and economy of the country. When the critical knowledge was most required, it would be lost in a cloud of national dementia. There would be no time to reacquire the necessary knowledge; it would be needed immediately. Even if it were possible to respond in time, the expense of recreating what was once known would be a waste of the original investment. This deplorable situation, its associated costs and security implications would be disastrous for the country. It is therefore, at the very least, a civil responsibility to ensure that an organizational knowledge and information strategy exists to ensure the long-term access and use of the knowledge created by the original investment.

Although such a scenario of memory loss can be excruciatingly familiar to a single research or response organization, the risk of occurrence increases exponentially when such a research program is shared across organizations. When multiple organizations collaborate in a trust-based relationship to achieve mutual objectives, but without clear ownership of results and outputs, the responsibility for organizational memory is much more tenuous. Meta-organizations, or organizations whose members are other organizations, have additional challenges in ensuring that memory loss does not occur to the detriment of their collective constituents.

The following chapter will present a case study of a Canadian government meta-organizational collaborative initiative. In this case, multiple departments and agencies have a joint responsibility for creating a knowledge base and a national memory for the purposes of protecting the country against the insidious threats posed by terrorist aspirations. It will examine how the conditions of a meta-organization present particular opportunities and challenges for organizational learning and organizational memory. It will describe how a knowledge management strategy has been instrumental in organizational learning, resulting in a knowledge base for a collective organizational memory. Challenges and potential solutions will be shared as the initiative moves into the future.

The issues to be explored in this case study are:

  • Is an organization which is comprised of other organizations able to be successful in organizational learning?

  • How can an organizational memory be created to protect Canada from the potential scenario described above?

  • What strategies might be engaged to address these issues?

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Nick Bontis
Preface
John P. Girard
Acknowledgment
John P. Girard
Chapter 1
Peter Stoyko
This chapter describes how organizational culture is both a “vessel” for preserving organizational memory and a force that conditions the way... Sample PDF
Organizational Culture and the Management of Organizational Memory
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Chapter 2
Nicholas N. Bowersox
Recent business practices over the past decade have been tainted with corporate restructuring strategies such as downsizing, reorganizations, and... Sample PDF
Downsizing and Building Organizational Memory: A Paradoxical Relationship between “Brain-Drain” and “Brain-Gain”
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Chapter 3
Nicholas P. Robinson, Prescott C. Ensign
This chapter argues that a trusting corporate culture predicated on values that emphasize sharing and encourage interactions amongst stakeholders at... Sample PDF
Effective Stakeholder Knowledge Sharing for Effective Organizational Memory
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Chapter 4
Jerry Westfall
This chapter discusses the revision of the SECI model originally based on Japanese organizational culture into a model based on American... Sample PDF
Revising the SECI Model for American Organizational Culture
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Chapter 5
Parissa Haghirian
A growing interest in the various aspects of knowledge transfer within multinational corporations has been evidenced by a recent surge in empirical... Sample PDF
Knowledge Transfer within Multinational Corporations: An Intercultural Challenge
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Chapter 6
Patrice Dunckley, Suzanne Roff-Wexler
This chapter provides perspective and practical techniques that individuals and organizations can use to maximize knowledge transfer efforts. It... Sample PDF
Valuing a Multiplicity of Views: How to Tap Informal Networks to See the (W)hole
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Chapter 7
Haris Papoutsakis
This chapter explores the ways that Knowledge Sharing Networks support the flow of organizational knowledge within a firm. Based on the assumption... Sample PDF
Organizational Knowledge Sharing Networks
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Chapter 8
Raul M. Abril, Ralf Müller
This chapter suggests established research approaches to capture and validate project lessons learned. Past research indicates that due to the... Sample PDF
Lessons Learned as Organizational Project Memories
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Chapter 9
Jerry Westfall
This chapter discusses employee recall due to training presentations. Recall is an employee’s ability to remember what they knew or have learned via... Sample PDF
Will You Recall What You Knew?
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Chapter 10
Maria de los Angeles Martin, Luis Olsina
With the aim to manage and retrieve the organizational knowledge, in the last years numerous proposals of models and tools for knowledge management... Sample PDF
Added Value of Ontologies for Modeling an Organizational Memory
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Chapter 11
Juha Kettunen
This study analyses how strategic management is integrated with budgeting in the cities using the Balanced Scorecard approach, which provides a... Sample PDF
The Collective Process and Memory of Strategic Management
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Chapter 12
Kimiz Dalkir
Research on how organizational memories can be created, preserved and made available for future reuse in NPOs is presented. An initial review of the... Sample PDF
Organizational Memory Challenges Faced by Non-Profit Organizations
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Chapter 13
Susan G. McIntyre
The case study of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological-Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Research and Technology Initiative (CRTI), a Canadian... Sample PDF
Creating and Sustaining Meta Organizational Memory: A Case Study
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Chapter 14
David Bennet, Alex Bennet
This chapter begins with a brief discussion of the basic concepts related to the unconscious life of an organization, and then addresses specific... Sample PDF
Associative Patterning: The Unconscious Life of an Organization
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Chapter 15
Michael JD Sutton
This chapter introduces the research domain of knowledge management educational programs and issues associated with the preservation of knowledge... Sample PDF
A Manifesto for the Preservation of Organizational Memory Associated with the Emergence of Knowledge Management Educational Programs
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Chapter 16
Marie-Hélène Abel
Learning can be considered an outcome associated with acquiring new competencies (Sicilia, 2005) and adding new knowledge. A competence is a way to... Sample PDF
An Organizational Memory Tool for E-Learning
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Chapter 17
Sajjad M. Jasimuddin, N.A.D. Connell, Jonathan H. Klein
It is generally recognized that Walsh and Ungson (1991) “provided the first integrative framework for thinking about organizational memory”... Sample PDF
Understanding Organizational Memory
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Chapter 18
Les Miller, Sree Nilakanta, Yunan Song, Lei Zhu, Ming Hua
Organizational memories play a significant role in knowledge management, but several challenges confront their use. Artifacts of OM are many and... Sample PDF
Managing Knowledge in Organizational Memory Using Topic Maps
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About the Contributors