Knowledge Management in Construction Projects: A Way Forward in Dealing with Tacit Knowledge

Knowledge Management in Construction Projects: A Way Forward in Dealing with Tacit Knowledge

Min An (University of Birmingham, UK) and Hesham S. Ahmad (University of Birmingham, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/jitpm.2010040102
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Abstract

Knowledge is now becoming the most valuable asset of the construction organisations to gain competitive advantages by improving quality while reducing cost and time of work completion in projects. Knowledge Management (KM) is the most effective way to deal with the intellectual capital of the organisations through facilitating the capturing and sharing of existing knowledge and creating new innovative knowledge. The most useful knowledge in construction projects is tacit knowledge since it includes the people ideas, perceptions and experiences that can be shared and re-used to improve experiences and enhance abilities of employees for problem-solving and decision-making. Many of methods have been adopted to deal with knowledge in the construction organisations, but they are still far from enough, particularly in dealing with tacit knowledge gained from construction projects. This paper presents a methodology for dealing with tacit knowledge efficiently and effectively in construction projects. A case study has been conducted to evaluate the proposed KM method and to test its importance and usefulness in the construction industry.
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Introduction

Knowledge management (KM) is now becoming more vital for successful management of construction projects and also as a complement to the business activities of the organisations. With knowledge-based economy increasingly growing, knowledge is becoming an important asset for organisational success among other assets such as capital, materials, machineries, and properties (Kelleher & Levene, 2001; Fong & Wong, 2005). Through successful knowledge capturing, sharing and creation, industrial companies can improve the process of organisational learning to enhance the performance of the organisations and create more possibilities to gain competitive advantages (Li & Gao, 2003; KLICON, 1999; Ahmad & An, 2008).

The current interest in KM has been motivated by the need for continuous changes and improvements to enhance the construction processes (KLICON, 1999). KM has benefited from the remarkable development of computer technology which provides the people with the ability to digitally capture, search and transmit knowledge and electronically contact with other people (Carrillo et al., 2000; Blumentritt & Johnston, 1999). The construction organisations have showed an increased awareness of KM as a necessary prerequisite for improving quality, business performance, efficiency of project delivery, relationships with partners, suppliers and clients and innovations to gain competitive advantages (Egan, 1998; Kamara et al., 2002; Love et al., 2003). KM systems provide end-users with the tools and services necessary to capture, share, re-use, update, and create new experiences and best practices to aid them in processes, such as problem-solving, decision-making and innovation, without having to spend extra time, effort and resources on reinventing solutions that have already been invented elsewhere in the organizations (Ahmad et al., 2007).

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