Semiotic Analysis of the Conceptual Outlay of Knowledge Management: Lessons from South African Case

Semiotic Analysis of the Conceptual Outlay of Knowledge Management: Lessons from South African Case

Mooketsi Bojelo (University of Botswana, Botswana) and Kelvin Joseph Bwalya (University of Botswana, Botswana)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4434-2.ch019
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Knowledge Management (KM) development in the SADC region has been hampered by contextual challenges and lack of context-aware KM designs and interventions. In most of the cases, the frameworks and models utilized are adopted from the developed world with inherent characteristics of the developed world and when these are introduced on the African scene, they provide a contextual mismatch. This chapter presents the fundamental concepts of knowledge management especially as conceptualized in the African context and paves way for the design of a framework commensurate to the dynamic environment of the African continent. The chapter presents key concepts of knowledge management and probes whether the desired levels of knowledge management development have been reached to guarantee effective participation in the global knowledge value chains. This conceptual chapter emanates from extensive literature and document review on the different interventions and strategies for KM development in the SADC region. Using South Africa as a case, the chapter presents the ramifications that need to be followed with regards to KM design and implementation. The chapter provides “semiotic” analysis of the synergy between different KM interventions propagated by the governments and/or co-operating partners and actual realization of a knowledge economy.
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African countries are slowly putting in place interventions to drive the Knowledge Management (KM) agenda in their socio-economic setups. Most of these interventions are being promulgated in the public sector business value chains with a view to enhancing effectiveness (ultimate usage of human and intellectual resources and assets) and efficiency and with conviction that this will further have a domino effect to other national socio-economic value chains (Heck & Rogger, 2004). The understanding of what interventions to put in place starts from the understanding of the context in which those interventions are to be implemented. This chapter, therefore, intends to scan the general interventions put in place to encourage proliferation and development of KM especially in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, provide semiotic analysis of the factors driving the KM agenda, and providing future research directions centred on context-aware KM interventions. The major goal of this chapter is to ignite debate on how best to design and implement KM with context-relevant conceptualizations, and what impact this will have on sustainable KM development in Africa. It is posited that appropriate understanding of KM with reference to context is the beacon for successful KM interventions.

Most public sector establishments have slowly been following the businesslike approach to service delivery as envisaged in the private sector where efficiency, effectiveness and focal point of service delivery is on the citizen needs (Fowler & Pryke, 2003; Haricharan 2004; Smith, 2007). With regards to KM in the public sector, it cannot be denied that the following are some of the key benefits (Cong & Pandya, 2003): providing quality services commensurate to citizens’ expectations, and maintaining a just, acceptable and secure society. Wiig (2002) further contends that KM makes the public sector effective by facilitating informed decision-making; encouraging ordinary citizens to participate in decision-making (social and political inclusion); ushering in a knowledge competitive human resource base; and a stable, just, orderly and secure society, among other benefits. Successful mainstreaming of KM in the public sector business processes further culminates into well-organized, integrated and technically functional processes, e.g. e-Government implementation, workflow management systems, etc. When such a public service environment is created, knowledge will be able to move from one place to another with a view of fuelling innovation and competitiveness. Other authors have emphasized that KM can only yield results in an organizational setup if its implementation is aligned to the organizational goals and the overarching business strategy of the organization (Sunassee & Sewry, 2002).

With the transition by main African countries from resource-dependent to knowledge based economies, KM presents itself as a long-lasting predilection and strategic management tool that can guarantee success in the ever-changing global socio-economic value chains. The conceptualisation of KM is hinged on the fact that the success of an organization depends on its effectiveness and efficiency in managing both its tangible and intangible knowledge resources. It cannot be overemphasised that effective management of knowledge resources contributes to the success of the organisation. This understanding is based on the knowledge-based theory which contends that knowledge is the only resource that provides sustainable competitive advantage in an organisation setup (Roberts, 1998). This has been confirmed by a variety of researchers (Bembya, Passiante & Belbaly, 2004; Corbitt, Bradley, & Thanasankit, 2005) who have posited that knowledge and intellectual capital are organisational assets that add to firm’s competitiveness. The knowledge-based theory of the firm, therefore, is the genesis of the understanding of the value of effective management of knowledge resources towards competitiveness (Heck & Rogger, 2004).

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Editorial Advisory Board and List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Yousif Al-Bastaki, Amani Shajera
Chapter 1
Albert J. Simard, Philippe Jourdeuil
Although the knowledge society is evolving rapidly, uptake of knowledge management principles and practice in the public sector have lagged well... Sample PDF
Knowledge Manageability: A New Paradigm
Chapter 2
Neeta Baporikar
Today, knowledge management has come to be accepted and recognized as a source of competitive advantage in the private sector. Although Knowledge... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management Initiatives in Indian Public Sector
Chapter 3
G. Scott Erickson
This chapter assesses the reliability and predictability of government departments as partners in corporate knowledge management systems. The... Sample PDF
Government as a Partner in Knowledge Management: Lessons from the US Freedom of Information Act
Chapter 4
Amani Shajera, Yousif Al-Bastaki
This study explores the factors that affect organisational readiness for Knowledge Management (KM). This chapter assesses the organisational... Sample PDF
Organisational Readiness for Knowledge Management: Bahrain Public Sector Case Study
Chapter 5
Sepani Senaratne, Michele Florencia Victoria
The purpose of this chapter is to provide an approach to build a supportive organisational culture for sustained organisational learning in public... Sample PDF
Building a Supportive Culture for Sustained Organisational Learning in Public Sectors
Chapter 6
Kalsom Salleh
This chapter explores the role of Knowledge Management (KM) and knowledge workers in the public sector organization in the broader perspective... Sample PDF
Drivers, Benefits, and Challenges of Knowledge Management in Electronic Government: Preliminary Examination
Chapter 7
Anna-Maija Nisula
The objective of this chapter is to increase understanding and management of knowledge management in public sector organizations. In this chapter... Sample PDF
Developing Organizational Renewal Capability in the Municipal (City) Organization
Chapter 8
Jamie O’Brien
The primary aim of this chapter is to operationalize a Knowledge Assessment Framework (KAF) using two exploratory case studies. The development of a... Sample PDF
Lessons from the Private Sector: A Framework to be Adopted in the Public Sector
Chapter 9
Sandra Moffett, Tim Walker, Rodney McAdam
This chapter focuses on an exploratory study from an operational perspective, investigating the role of Knowledge Management (KM) in the UK Public... Sample PDF
Best Value and Performance Management Inspired Change within UK Councils: A Knowledge Management Perspective
Chapter 10
Robert Flynn, Verena Marshall
The purpose of this chapter is to argue the connection between successful knowledge management implementation and a robust change management... Sample PDF
The Four Levers for Change in Knowledge Management Implementation
Chapter 11
Temtim Assefa, Monica Garfield, Million Meshesha
This chapter investigates enabling factors that promote knowledge sharing among employees in the workplace. The study was conducted on employees of... Sample PDF
Enabling Factors for Knowledge Sharing among Employees in the Workplace
Chapter 12
Mahmood Ghaznavi, Salman Iqbal, Paul Toulson
Social capital provides individuals with access to knowledge. Knowledge Management (KM) research recognises the importance of individuals’ social... Sample PDF
Employing Individuals’ Social Capital to Create Value in the Public Sector Organisations
Chapter 13
Abu Hassan Abu Bakar, Wiwied Virgiyanti, Muhammad Asim Tufail, Mohamad Nizam Yusof
For academics and professionals, knowledge management has been widely known as a core agenda and has been recognized as one of the most important... Sample PDF
Assessing Knowledge Management Processes and Competitive Advantage in Local Authorities using Knowledge Management Assessment Instrument (KMAI)
Chapter 14
Khairul Shafee B Kalid, Mohd Syafiq Saifullah
Studies have shown that one of the failures of government projects in Malaysia is the lack of necessary knowledge among project team members.... Sample PDF
Project Story Capturing System: The Use of Storytelling to Capture Tacit Knowledge in Government Projects
Chapter 15
Mahmoud Abdelrahman, K. Nadia Papamichail, Simon French
With the advent of the knowledge economy and the growing importance of knowledge societies, organizations are constantly seeking new ways of... Sample PDF
Assessing Knowledge Management Systems Usage in Supporting Decision Making Processes in Organizations
Chapter 16
Elzbieta Malinowski
The increasing popularity of spatial data opens up the possibility to include it in decision-making processes in order to help discover existing... Sample PDF
Decision-Making Processes Based on Knowledge Gained from Spatial Data
Chapter 17
Filippo Zanin, Maurizio Massaro, Carlo Bagnoli
The formulation of a competitive strategy requires an appropriate incorporation of knowledge contents for fostering the development of the... Sample PDF
Towards a Competitive Knowledge Management Strategy Approach in the University Setting: The Case of Ca’Foscari University of Venice
Chapter 18
David Rodríguez-Gómez, Joaquín Gairín
Communities of Practice are one of the leading strategies used to promote knowledge management processes aimed at generating both organisational and... Sample PDF
Communities of Practice in the Catalan Public Administration: Promoting Their Improvement
Chapter 19
Mooketsi Bojelo, Kelvin Joseph Bwalya
Knowledge Management (KM) development in the SADC region has been hampered by contextual challenges and lack of context-aware KM designs and... Sample PDF
Semiotic Analysis of the Conceptual Outlay of Knowledge Management: Lessons from South African Case
Chapter 20
Marja Naaranoja, Lorna Uden
Despite the importance of knowledge integration in construction project management, it rarely happens in reality. This chapter describes two case... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management in Public Construction Project Initiation
About the Contributors