An Evaluation of Factors that Influence the Success of Knowledge Management Practices in U.S. Federal Agencies

An Evaluation of Factors that Influence the Success of Knowledge Management Practices in U.S. Federal Agencies

Elsa Rhoads (Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, USA), Kevin J. O'Sullivan (New York Institute of Technology, USA) and Michael Stankosky (The George Washington University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-140-7.ch011
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This research chapter investigates the status of knowledge management (KM) practices implemented across federal agencies of the U.S. government. It analyzes the extent to which this status is influenced by the size of the agency, whether or not the agency type is a cabinet-level department or independent agency, the longevity of KM practices implemented in the agency, whether or not the agency has adopted a written KM policy or strategy, and whether the primary responsibility for KM practices in the agency is directed by a chief knowledge officer (CKO) or KM unit versus other functional locations in the agency. The research also tests for possible KM practitioner bias, since the survey was directed to members of the Knowledge Management Working Group (KMWG) of the Federal Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council who are KM practitioners in federal agencies.
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The implementation of KM practices has been underway in both the public and private sectors for many years. For the federal government this transition was well underway prior to the devastating events of September 11th, 2001 (9/11). However those events increased the awareness of the value and importance of the government’s stewardship of its knowledge. In fact, the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City is considered by many to have been a “wake-up call” for federal agencies to make both policy and process changes in order to prevent future attacks.

KM programs concentrate on managing and distributing what the government knows within and between agencies for the purpose of taking collaborative action. The basic tenet of KM is that the right knowledge needs to be made available to the right people at the right time for the purpose of taking concerted action.

The most important role of the federal government is inarguably to protect its citizens from harm, and specifically from terrorist threats. As a result of 9/11, President George W. Bush, upon a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, created in November 2002) began to rectify the gap in sharing knowledge and coordinating action by creating the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Twenty-two different agencies with a total of 180,000 employees were reorganized into a single agency for the purpose of preventing terrorist attacks and protecting citizens and infrastructure from threats and hazards. The intentional sharing of knowledge on the part of federal agencies is the new paradigm, albeit one in transition. The major objective is to ensure that the government knows what it needs to know, when it needs to know it.

Deployment of KM programs in U.S. federal agencies is hampered by two distinct conditions:

  • 1.

    Long-established hierarchical “command-and-control” management styles and bureaucratic organizational structures make it challenging for agencies to share knowledge through either intra-agency collaboration, and much less through cross-agency or inter-agency collaboration.

  • 2.

    Agency information technology (IT) systems are a mixture of legacy systems cobbled together with newer systems and technologies, making interoperability a technically difficult impediment both within and between different agencies.

The management of the government’s knowledge is also made difficult by the vast amount of data and information contained in its repositories. In addition, the government’s knowledge is comprised of the working knowledge in the minds of approximately 1,800,000 federal employees (Office of Personal Management, 2004) To manage this bewildering resource of both explicit and tacit knowledge and harness its capabilities is enormously demanding. Much of the knowledge in government organizations, and certainly within a constituency base, is tacit in nature, that is, knowledge that cannot be easily articulated and thus exists in people’s hands and minds, and only manifests itself through their actions (Koh, Ryan, & Prybutok, 2005; Stenmark, 2001)

A further problem is that the management of knowledge can be executed in many forms, but it is most useful to agencies when these forms are developed to fit specific agency objectives. This immediate utility is what gives knowledge its value to each agency. However, these unique uses and designs are what make it difficult to share knowledge across agencies. Recently much research has been pursued in the area of KM, in which KM initiatives were internally focused, and principally aimed at collaboration and knowledge sharing among employees (Almashari, Zairi, & Alathari, 2002; Henderson & Venkatraman, 1993; Koh et al., 2005; Lai & Chu, 2003; Liebowitz, 2003-2004).

Unfortunately, there has been mixed comprehensive research into the value proposition of applying KM practices to achieve improvements in productivity either within a single federal agency, or through the transfer of knowledge between agencies to serve common customers.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Murray E. Jennex
This is the third volume in the Advances in Knowledge Management and I thought it appropriate to start this volume with some reflection on where KM... Sample PDF
Reflections on Knowledge Management Research and Practice
Chapter 2
Peter Keen, Margaret Tan
The chapter proposes a simple framework termed ‘knowledge fusion’ to extend the rigor and relevance of knowledge management (KM). It points to some... Sample PDF
Knowledge Fusion: A Framework for Extending the Rigor and Relevance of Knowledge Management
Chapter 3
Hazel Taylor
This chapter explores the concept of ‘tacit knowledge’ and how organizations can foster the sharing and exchange of tacit knowledge. Various views... Sample PDF
Tapping Tacit Knowledge
Chapter 4
Andrea Hornett, Eric W. Stein
This chapter adds to our understanding of knowledge management as an evolving body of concepts, relationships, strategies and practices. Using... Sample PDF
Advances in Knowledge Management: Mapping Ideas that Shape Practice
Chapter 5
Clyde W. Holsapple, Kiku G. Jones
Just as Porter’s value chain model identifies classes of business activity that can be performed in ways that contribute to a firm’s... Sample PDF
Knowledge Chain Activity Classes: Impacts on Competitiveness and the Importance of Technology Support
Chapter 6
Rahinah Ibrahim, Mark E. Nissen
Tacit knowledge attenuates particularly quickly in organizations that experience discontinuous membership: the coming and going of organizational... Sample PDF
Developing a Knowledge-Based Organizational Performance Model for Improving Knowledge Flows in Discontinuous Organizations
Chapter 7
Frank Land, Urooj Amjad, Sevasti-Melissa Nolas
The purpose of this chapter is to argue the case that the study of Knowledge Management should embrace considerations of ethics and accountability.... Sample PDF
Accountability and Ethics in Knowledge Management
Chapter 8
Chay Yue Wah
The study aims to understand the social and organizational factors that influence knowledge sharing. A model of knowledge management and knowledge... Sample PDF
Social Capital and Knowledge Sharing in Knowledge-Based Organizations: An Empirical Study
Chapter 9
Charlie C. Chen, Rong-An Shang, Albert L. Harris, Zhi-Kai Chen
A knowledge management system (KMS) project transcends functional departments and business partners. The success of KMS implementation is highly... Sample PDF
A Structured Method for Evaluating the Management of a Knowledge Management System Implementation
Chapter 10
Murray E. Jennex, Stefan Smolnik, David T. Croasdell
This chapter explores knowledge management, KM, and knowledge management system, KMS, success. The inspiration for this chapter is the KM Success... Sample PDF
Toward a Consensus Knowledge Management Success Definition
Chapter 11
Elsa Rhoads, Kevin J. O'Sullivan, Michael Stankosky
This research chapter investigates the status of knowledge management (KM) practices implemented across federal agencies of the U.S. government. It... Sample PDF
An Evaluation of Factors that Influence the Success of Knowledge Management Practices in U.S. Federal Agencies
Chapter 12
Kevin Laframboise, Anne-Marie Croteau, Anne Beaudry, Mantas Manovas
This article reports on a study that investigates the knowledge transfer between an information systems/ technology (IS/IT) department and non-IT... Sample PDF
Interdepartmental Knowledge Transfer Success During Information Technology Projects
Chapter 13
Claudio Vitari, Jennifer Moro, Aurelio Ravarini, Isabelle Bourdon
The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to the improvement of the acceptance of information systems (IS) devoted to the codification and... Sample PDF
Improving KMS Acceptance: The Role of Organizational and Individuals' Influence
Chapter 14
Michael J. Zhang
While a great deal has been written about how information systems (IS) can be deployed to facilitate knowledge management for performance... Sample PDF
IS Support for Knowledge Management and Firm Performance: An Empirical Study
Chapter 15
Wei Li, Alexandre Ardichvili, Martin Maurer, Tim Wentling, Reed Stuedemann
The goal of this study was to explore how national (Chinese) culture influences knowledge sharing in virtual communities of practice at a large... Sample PDF
Chinese Culture and Virtual Knowledge Sharing in a Multinational Corporation
Chapter 16
Gilles Balmisse, Denis Meingan, Katia Passerini
In this chapter, we update earlier research on the state of the art Knowledge Management (KM) tools and present key evaluation criteria that can be... Sample PDF
Selecting the Right Knowledge Management Tools: Software Trends and Key Evaluation Criteria
Chapter 17
Jörg Rech, Raimund L. Feldmann, Eric Ras
Knowledge management is a relatively young discipline. It has accumulated a valuable body-of-knowledge on how to structure and represent knowledge... Sample PDF
Knowledge Patterns and Knowledge Refactorings for Increasing the Quality of Knowledge
Chapter 18
Paul Jackson, Ray Webster
This chapter is concerned with engaging end-users in the design and development of knowledge management systems. The identification, capture and use... Sample PDF
Knowledge Elicitation and Mapping: Ontology as an Instrument of Design and Organizational Learning
Chapter 19
Aurora Vizcaino, Juan Pablo Soto, Javier Portillo, Mario Piattini
Efforts to develop Knowledge Management have increased in recent years. However, many of the systems implanted in companies are still not greatly... Sample PDF
Helping to Develop Knowledge Management Systems by Using a Multi-Agent Approach
Chapter 20
Mirghani Mohamed, Michael Stankosky, Vincent Ribière
The purpose of this chapter is to examine the requirements of Knowledge Management (KM) services deployment in a Semantic Grid environment. A wide... Sample PDF
Adopting the Grid Computing & Semantic Web Hybrid for Global Knowledge Sharing
Chapter 21
Sineed Paisittanand, L. A. Digman, Sang M. Lee
The creation and the use of knowledge have increasingly been regarded as important issues for management. A wide range of studies have investigated... Sample PDF
The Effect of Knowledge Process Capabilities and Knowledge Infrastructure Capabilities on Strategy Implementation Effectiveness
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