Developing an Integrated Model for Understanding Knowledge Management Practices in an Arab Country: Evidence from a Case Study

Developing an Integrated Model for Understanding Knowledge Management Practices in an Arab Country: Evidence from a Case Study

Minwir Al-Shammari (University of Bahrain, Kingdom of Bahrain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-954-0.ch012
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Abstract

This chapter seeks to develop a model for understanding Knowledge Management (KM) practice in an Arab socio-economic context. To achieve the objectives of the study, a conceptual KM model was proposed and described; it was then illustrated using a case study. The chapter adopts a case study approach as a powerful source of understanding the KM specificities. Twelve interviews were conducted with executives of a telecommunications company, and then were systemically analyzed. Based on the findings of the study, a profile of KM in an Arab country is developed as well as a holistic and integrative KM model. The final model concludes with a proposed a three-layer KM model. The first layer includes KM drivers (market liberalization, technological advancements, and customers’ preferences); the second includes KM processes (knowledge strategizing, sourcing, composing, sharing, and using), whereas the third layer includes KM enablers (KM buying behavior, convergence of business and technology, source-data quality, project championship, process-based structure, and sharing culture). However, the proposed model requires further testing through conducting more case studies to be able to capture the best practice of KM in this important region.
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The Importance Of Knowledge

The beauty of using knowledge as a base of sustainable competitive advantage is that it is a non-depleting resource. Unlike other business resources that diminish once shared, knowledge development follows the law of increasing returns - the more knowledge is used, the more value it creates. Furthermore, the more knowledge is shared, the more new knowledge is generated. Knowledge sharing, therefore, is becoming a successful way to increase the value of ‘intellectual assets’ in improving knowledge-intensive processes and adding value to customers and profitability to the business. There are several key attributes of knowledge, which must be factored into KM practices (Kluge, et al, 2001; and Davenport and Prusak, 2000):

  • Subjectivity: context and individual background shape the interpretation of knowledge.

  • Transferability: knowledge can be extracted and transferred to other contexts.

  • Embeddedness: knowledge is often in static and buried form that makes it difficult to extract.

  • Self-reinforcement: knowledge is the only unlimited resource, the one asset that its marginal utility increases and does not decrease once used or shared.

  • Perishability: knowledge can become outdated.

  • Serendipity (spontaneity): knowledge can develop unexpectedly in a spontaneous or incidental process (e.g., water cooler knowledge exchanges).

  • Velocity:speed with which knowledge moves through an organization (e.g., computers and networks excel at enhancing the velocity of knowledge).

  • Viscosity:richness or stickiness of detailed or subtle knowledge transferred (e.g., apprenticeship or mentoring relationship)

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