BIM-Based Knowledge Management in Construction Projects

BIM-Based Knowledge Management in Construction Projects

Hao Wang (School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK) and Xianhai Meng (School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/IJITPM.2018040102

Abstract

Construction organizations have increasingly realized the importance of knowledge management (KM). They have also increasingly applied various tools and strategies to manage their knowledge. Due to the temporary nature of construction projects, however, there continues to be certain barriers and challenges of KM that are hard to overcome. This article explores the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to achieve better KM in UK construction organizations. First of all, why and how BIM can facilitate KM in construction projects are identified from the literature review. Secondly, a questionnaire survey in quantitative measurement is used to investigate key aspects of KM that can be improved by using BIM. The results of quantitative data analysis are further discussed with the help of literature review. It is found in this article that BIM has the potential to support KM in construction projects. In particular, BIM contributes to proactive KM, lifecycle KM, and KM processes. The findings of this article provide researchers and practitioners with a better understanding of BIM-based KM.
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Introduction

Knowledge Management

Knowledge is seen as one of the most competitive resources in any organizations (Ofek & Sarvary, 2001). A lot of researchers are trying to define knowledge by distinguishing among data, information and knowledge (Alavi & Leidner, 2001). A common view with minor variants is that data is raw numbers and symbols while information is the processed data (Dretske, 1983). Quigley and Debons (1999) defined that information can be regarded as resources used to answer “when”, “where”, “who”, and “what” questions while knowledge is the application of information to answer “how” and “why” questions. As a result, data, information and knowledge can be placed at three different levels, ranging from data at the bottom to knowledge at the top (Rowley, 2007). According to Nonaka, Umemoto and Senoo (1996), on the other hand, information is an essential material for eliciting and formatting knowledge. The creation of knowledge is based on information.

Wiig (1997) holds that KM is a process to try to understand and manage systematic, explicit, and deliberate knowledge creation, renewal, and application. The objectives of KM are: (1) to make the organization act intelligently to secure its competitiveness and overall success, and (2) to realize the best value of its knowledge assets. The KM process can be seen as a series of structured activities for managing knowledge effectively and efficiently, which generally includes knowledge creation, sharing/communication, storage, and application (Alavi & Leidner, 2001). In this study, knowledge creation is explained based on the SECI (socialization, externalization, combination, internalization) model proposed by Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995). This is because that this model has been widely accepted in and has been used in many studies (Hussi, 2004; Jakubik, 2007; Ngulube, 2003; Zheng, Yang & McLean, 2010). Based on this model, knowledge can be created as various new types. Socialization (S) aims to transfer tacit knowledge into new tacit knowledge through social interactions among members. Externalization (E) converts tacit knowledge into explicit types. Combination (C) is a process that upgrades explicit knowledge into more complex and systematic sets of explicit knowledge by combining explicit knowledge with some key pieces of other knowledge. Internalization (I) involves the process of changing explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge. Additionally, knowledge sharing is defined as the exchange of knowledge between and among individuals/teams/organizational units/organizations. There are two roles in this process. One role involves the communication of knowledge and the other has to do with assimilation (Schwartz, 2006). Knowledge storage/retrieval can be seen as organizational memory, constitutes a crucial aspect of KM of an organization. Organizational memory refers to knowledge residing in various component forms, such as paper-based documentation, information stored in electronic databases, codified human knowledge stored in expert systems, documented organizational procedures and processes and tacit knowledge acquired by individuals and networks of individuals (Tan, Teo, Tan & Wei, 1998). The process of knowledge application is related to how the existing knowledge can be utilized to make decisions and perform tasks based on the direction and routines (Becerra-Fernandez & Sabherwal, 2014).

Knowledge Management in Construction

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