Knowledge Management in Charities

Knowledge Management in Charities

Kathleen E. Greenaway (Ryerson University, Canada) and David C.H. Vuong (Queen’s University, Canada)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-931-1.ch062


Charities, also called voluntary-service not-forprofit organizations (VSNFP), play a vital role in modern societies by addressing needs and providing services that benefit the public. These services frequently are available from neither markets nor governments. Many charitable organizations have been created to deliver or have expanded their range or scope of services as the result of governments “devolving” or transferring services to the non-profit sector (Gunn, 2004). Therefore, it is unsurprising that charities have a significant impact economically and socially. For example, volunteer work in Argentina, the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, and is valued at 2.7, 21, 23, and 109 billion (US) dollars respectively (Johns Hopkins University, 2005). Volunteering translates into significant resources for non-profit organizations. For example, Statistics Canada estimates that work equivalent to 1 million fulltime jobs was provided through volunteer labor in 2004 (Statistics Canada, 2006). While charities are part of the non-profit sector, research demonstrates that charitable organizations differ from for-profit organizations in terms of their human capital management, management practices, and strategies (Bontis & Serenko, 2008). Failing to account for such differences may adversely affect theory (Orlikowski & Barley, 2001) and practice (Kilbourne & Marshall, 2005). Our key question is: What is the extent of our understanding of the role of knowledge management, both as process and system, in charitable organizations? We discuss this question by adapting the knowledge management (KM) research framework originally developed for examining KM in knowledge-based enterprises (Staples, Greenaway & McKeen 2001). Many non-profits are “knowledge-intensive” organizations (Lettieri et al 2004:17). Therefore, this research model should be transferable to non-profit organizations including charities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Self-Consistency Theory: A psychological theory asserting an individual will behave in a manner consistent with the what his/her social circle believes him/her to be (Korman, 1970; Vuong & Staples, 2008).

Disengagement: The significant removal of thought and interest from one’s role and environment (Ford 2008).

Volunteer-Service Not-For-Profit (VSNFP): A specific type of not-for-profit organization that relies on donations for revenue and volunteerism for labor (Kilbourne & Marshall, 2005).

Organizational Memory: Knowledge from the past that remains stored in the present within an individual or an information system (Stein & Zwass, 1995).

Social Capital: That which arises from collegial respect to form the basis for collaborative work (Vuong & Staples, 2008).

Miscellaneous or Non-Characteristic Knowledge: Knowledge that is held by individuals that is not directly related to work or work related activities (Blackler, 1995; Lettieri et al., 2004).

Knowledge Management System (KMS): An information system designed to help realize effective knowledge management strategies (Alavi & Leidner, 2001).

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