Knowledge Chain Activity Classes: Impacts on Competitiveness and the Importance of Technology Support

Knowledge Chain Activity Classes: Impacts on Competitiveness and the Importance of Technology Support

Clyde W. Holsapple (The University of Kentucky, USA) and Kiku G. Jones (The University of Tulsa, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-140-7.ch005
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Abstract

Just as Porter’s value chain model identifies classes of business activity that can be performed in ways that contribute to a firm’s competitiveness, the knowledge chain model contends there are classes of knowledge management (KM) activity that can be performed in ways that enhance firm competitiveness. These KM activities pervade the value chain, being inherent in the implementation of each value chain activity. Derived from a collaboratively engineered ontology of knowledge management, the knowledge chain model is supported by anecdotal evidence and a survey has found support for the propositions that its activity classes are linked to enhanced productivity, agility, innovation, and reputation. Here, we present a study of leaders of KM initiatives that examines each of the nine knowledge chain classes in terms of its competitive impact and the extent to which its positive impact on competitiveness is associated with the importance of technology in performing activities within that class. The study provides confirming evidence that each of the knowledge chain activity classes can be performed in ways that contribute to competitiveness. Moreover, we find that for five of the activity classes there is a significant positive correlation between impact on competitiveness and the importance of computer-based technology in implementing the class’s activities.
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Introduction

Interest in knowledge management (KM) as a research field has exploded over the past decade. In the information systems (IS) faculty directory of 1996, one person reports “knowledge management” as a major topic of research focus (DeGross, 1996); by 2006, the IS faculty directory identifies over 600 people with a “knowledge management” research focus (http://www.isfacdir.org/). A flurry of special issues on KM in leading journals from 2001 to 2003 has matured into launches of new scholarly journals devoted to KM (e.g., International Journal of Knowledge Management, Knowledge Management Research and Applications) to complement Journal of Knowledge Management and Knowledge and Process Management which date from the mid-1990s. Sufficient critical mass has developed to warrant major KM reference books such as a 1500-page handbook (Holsapple, 2003) and 900-page encyclopedia (Schwartz, 2006), plus KM tracks in major conferences (e.g., ICIS, AMCIS, DSI, HICSS) have become standard.

One driving force for this interest is a need to understand the relationship between KM and competitiveness (Dutta, 1997). Knowledge is considered the most valuable and powerful asset that an organization can posses (Stewart, 1997). Being able to effectively manage knowledge has been noted by researchers in the field of competitive advantage as the only factor that can provide an organization with a competitive edge (Prusak, 1996). In order for practitioners to manage knowledge effectively, it is imperative that they have some type of guidelines when developing their KM initiatives. Such guidance could come from a definitive model that gives practitioners a structure for organizing their analyses of activities involved in KM and for understanding how they impact competitiveness.

The knowledge chain model is an initial step in this direction (Holsapple & Singh, 2000). This model is based on part of a KM ontology developed by an international panel of KM practitioners and researchers (Holsapple & Joshi, 2000, 2001, 2002). The knowledge chain model identifies nine activity classes that are performed by organizations in their conduct of KM. Evidence from experiences reported in the KM literature indicates that each of these classes of activities is a potential source of competitive advantage and that this source of competitive advantage can be approached from one or more of four angles: productivity, agility, innovation, and/or reputation – the PAIR directions (Holsapple & Singh, 2001). To date, the one empirical study of the knowledge chain model offers support for the proposition that each of the nine basic KM activities can be performed in ways that enhance a firm’s performance in one or more of the PAIR directions (Holsapple & Singh, 2005). Here, we report on a further empirical study of the knowledge chain model which examines linkages of KM activities with both performance and technology usage. It uses a survey methodology and analyzes perceptions of leaders of KM initiatives. For each of the model’s nine KM activities, we examine two propositions. First, the KM activity can contribute to an organization’s competitiveness. Second, the greater the importance of technology support in performing the activity, the greater the contribution to competitiveness realized from that activity.

Results of this study furnish an understanding of contemporary practices and views regarding the relationships between performance of KM activities and impacts on competitiveness, with particular emphasis on the role of technology in performing KM activities in ways that enhance competitiveness. For practitioners, this understanding can help in recognizing both needs and opportunities as they evaluate and plan their own organizations’ KM initiatives. For researchers, this understanding can inform and help stimulate future investigations of the relationship between KM and competitiveness. For technology vendors, this understanding can point out gaps in present KM technologies and, perhaps, spur advances in those areas.

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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About the Contributors