Government Innovation Through Knowledge Management

Government Innovation Through Knowledge Management

Luis Felipe Luna-Reyes (Universidad de las Américas-Puebla, Mexico)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-270-1.ch018
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Abstract

Contemporary organizations face the challenge of growing and advancing in a complex and changing environment (Johannessen, Olaisen, & Olsen, 2001; Malhotra, 2000). In order to accomplish this objective, private organizations continuously innovate to attract customers (Johannessen et al.). Competition has been accelerated by information technology, which allows the appearance of new business models, introducing new competitors in the business arena (Rayport, 2001). Under these circumstances, it appears that innovation is one of the most valuable activities for any organization (Nonaka, 1996). Furthermore, the management of intangible assets such as knowledge is one of the critical factors to promote innovation and sustainable competitive advantage (Davenport, 2001; De Long & Fahey, 2000; Malhotra; Nonaka).
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Introduction

Contemporary organizations face the challenge of growing and advancing in a complex and changing environment (Johannessen, Olaisen, & Olsen, 2001; Malhotra, 2000). In order to accomplish this objective, private organizations continuously innovate to attract customers (Johannessen et al.). Competition has been accelerated by information technology, which allows the appearance of new business models, introducing new competitors in the business arena (Rayport, 2001). Under these circumstances, it appears that innovation is one of the most valuable activities for any organization (Nonaka, 1996). Furthermore, the management of intangible assets such as knowledge is one of the critical factors to promote innovation and sustainable competitive advantage (Davenport, 2001; De Long & Fahey, 2000; Malhotra; Nonaka).

The need for innovation in government does not respond directly to competition, but to several intertwined factors, such as the complexity of the problems being faced by government, the emergence of new organizational forms such as networks, the pressure to improve service to the citizens, and the need to learn about new information technology.

Government faces complex social problems that require collaboration from different levels of government, private organizations, and nonprofits (Snyder & de Souza Briggs, 2003; Snyder, Wenger, & de Souza Briggs, 2004). These new collaboration patterns challenge the traditional hierarchical government organization, deriving on the need to innovate in the structure of institutions (Gascó, 2004) and the creation of networks of public and/or private organizations needing to share what they know about a specific problem domain (Fountain, 2001a; Snyder & de Souza Briggs; Zhang, Cresswell, & Thompson, 2005). Innovation is also needed to respond to citizens demanding from government levels of service similar to the ones they are used to getting from private companies (Kannabiran, Xavier, & Anantharaaj, 2004). Additionally, movements such as the New Public Management or the Reinvention of Government are also adding pressure to improve these levels of service (Fountain, 2001b).

IT is being used to respond to these challenges, and public-sector organizations are using IT to promote better relationships between government and citizens (Gil-García & Helbig, 2006; Heeks, 2006; Lee, Tan, & Trimi, 2005; Rocheleau, 2006). However, introducing IT in government poses the challenge of continuous learning and education of government employees, promoting also the need for sharing knowledge (Heeks, 2006). In several countries, additional pressures promoting knowledge management (KM) come from personnel turnover from retirements (Bontis, 2007).

In this way, promoting innovation and managing knowledge is becoming increasingly important for public agencies. As with many other public information technologies, knowledge management and knowledge management systems require the integration of technical design in a series of social processes and interactions among government, citizens, and private organizations, where knowledge is continuously created or transformed (Awad & Ghaziri, 2003; Barrett, Cappleman, Shoib, & Walsham, 2004; Fountain, 2001a).

The purpose of the present chapter is to discuss the process involved in managing knowledge and innovation in government, considering some critical factors in the process. To accomplish this objective, the chapter is organized in four different but conceptually interrelated sections. In the first of them, I describe some of the main concepts of knowledge management. The second section is a description of the knowledge management process, and the next one is a brief discussion about the impact of the four critical factors identified by Arthur Andersen and Company on the main stages in the KM process. The last sections of the chapter constitute a description of future trends and conclusions.

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