The success of today’s enterprises, measured in terms of their ability to learn and to apply lessons learned, is highly dependent on the inner workings and capabilities of their information technology (IT) function. This is largely due to the emergence of the digital economy (Ghosh, 2006; Turban, Leidner, McLean, & Wetherbe, 2005), characterized by a highly competitive and turbulent business environment, inextricably driven by the intra- and inter-organizational processes and the knowledge processing activities they support. One consequence is the increase in organizations’ efforts to deliberately manage knowledge (Tapscott, 1997), especially the intellectual capital (Stewart, 1997) of their employees (De Hoog, van Heijst, van der Spek, et al., 1999), which necessarily deals with the conceptualization, review, consolidation, and action phases of creating, securing, combining, coordinating, and retrieving knowledge. In fact, such efforts must be instrumental to creating an efficient organization model based on some innovative initiative, and then enable the organization to launch and learn. In a knowledge-creating organization (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995), employees are expected to continually improvise, and invent new methods to deal with unexpected problems and share these innovations with other employees through some effective channels of communications or knowledge transfer mechanisms. The key is collaboration, implying that organizational knowledge is created only when individuals keep modifying their knowledge through interactions with other organizational members. The challenge that organizations now face is how to devise suitable information systems (IS) support to enable such collaboration, namely, to turn the scattered, diverse knowledge of their people into welldocumented knowledge assets ready for reuse to benefit the whole organization. This article presents some service-oriented perspectives of employee-based collaboration through the design of specific IS support called the Organizational Memory Information System (OMIS) in light of the peculiar open-source development initiative of Wiki technology (Leuf & Cunningham, 2001).
Lately, an organization’s ability to learn is often considered a process of development to organizational memory. By organizational memory (Walsh & Ungson 1991), we are referring to various structures within an organization that hold knowledge in one form or another, such as databases and other information stores, work processes, procedures, and product or service architecture. As a result, organizational memory (OM) must be nurtured to assimilate new ideas and transform those ideas into action and knowledge, which could benefit the rest of the organization (Ulrich, Von Glinlow, & Jick 1993). Through understanding the important components of the OM (Vat, 2001), an organization can better appreciate how it is currently learning from its key experiences, to ensure that relevant knowledge becomes embedded within the future operations and practices of the organization. In practice, creating and using an OM is a cooperative activity necessarily involving many members of an organization. If those individuals are not adequately motivated in contributing to the OM initiative, and the organizational culture does not support knowledge sharing (Orlinkowski, 1992), it is not likely to turn the scattered, diverse knowledge present in various forms into well-structured knowledge assets ready for deposit and reuse in the OM.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Organizational Memory: A learning history that tells an organization its own story that should help generate reflective conversations among organizational members. Operationally, an organizational memory has come to be a close partner of knowledge management, denoting the actual content that a knowledge management system purports to manage.
Knowledge Management: The broad process of locating, organizing, transferring, and using the information and expertise within the organization, typically by using advanced information technologies.
Double-Loop Learning: Together with single-loop learning, describes the way in which organizations may learn to respond appropriately to change. Single-loop learning requires adjustments to procedures and operations within the framework of customary, accepted assumptions, but fails to recognize or deal effectively with problems that may challenge fundamental aspects of organizational culture, norms, or objectives. Double-loop learning questions those assumptions from the vantage point of higher-order, shared views, in order to solve problems.
Collaboration: To facilitate the process of shared creation involving two or more individuals interacting to create shared understanding where none had existed or could have existed on its own.
Organizational Memory Information System (OMIS): An information system supporting the development of organizational memory, whose design philosophy is often organization specific. An example philosophy is to consider the OMIS as a meaning attribution system in which people select certain resource items out of the mass potentially available and get them processed to make them meaningful in a particular context in order to support their purposeful actions.
Service-oriented computing: A field of research focusing on the development of such technology that enables enterprises to describe the services they offer in a textual, mostly XML-based form, to publish these descriptions online and find services of other enterprises according to these descriptions, to compose services into new services, and to communicate with applications of other enterprises according to their service descriptions.
Organizational learning: A process of leveraging the collective individual learning of an organization to produce a higher-level organization-wide intellectual asset. It is a continuous process of creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge accompanied by a modification of behavior to reflect new knowledge and insight, and produce a higher-level asset.
Learning Organization: An organization that focuses on developing and using its information and knowledge capabilities to achieve the following: to create higher-value information and knowledge, to modify behaviors to reflect new knowledge and insights, and to improve bottom-line results.
Wiki Technology: Technology based on open-source software in the form of a Wiki engine. The Hawaiian word “Wiki” means “quick,” with the connotation that this technology is easy to use once installed. Wikis run over the World Wide Web and can be supported by any browser. The technology is governed by an underlying hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) that determines client and server communication. Wikis are able to respond to both requests for data (GET) and data submission (POST), in a given Web front, based on the HTTP concept.
Service-Oriented Design: The process of designing software application support for one or more business processes, using the service-oriented computing paradigm.