Knowledge Management Strategy Implementation Through Knowledge Ambassadors

Knowledge Management Strategy Implementation Through Knowledge Ambassadors

Annabeth Aagaard (Aarhus University, Denmark)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5427-1.ch010

Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to explore and explain how knowledge management strategies are implemented effectively across divisions through the application of change agents in the shape of so-called “knowledge ambassadors.” Knowledge ambassadors can play an active role in supporting knowledge sharing and effective integration of knowledge management strategies. The chapter is based on a three-year longitudinal participative case study of the implementation of a knowledge management strategy across an organization and its seven geographically dispersed divisions. The results of the study reveal different steps and key activities in effective implementation of a knowledge management strategy and how knowledge ambassadors play a vital role in effective integration of knowledge management tools, continuous support of knowledge sharing practices, and in developing a knowledge culture within the organization.
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Introduction

Knowledge Management (KM) has become a key factor in the performance of organizations (Perez-Soltero et al., 2015) and several organizations have established some sort of knowledge management strategy in an attempt to structure and support knowledge sharing across the internal and external organization. Yet, in practice many companies fail in ensuring a continuous focus on knowledge sharing, the full integration of knowledge management strategies and on continuously developing a knowledge culture. Oftentimes the ‘news value’ of the knowledge management strategy and the knowledge management initiatives wear off, when operations and daily assignments take over the employees’ focus. The challenges of overcoming the obstacles to effective strategy integration and execution have been discussed theoretically and empirically by various authors (Giles, 1991; Pellegrinelli & Bowman, 1994; Al-Ghamdi, 1998; Hrebiniak, 2005, 2006; Kaplan & Norton, 2006; Wheelen & Hunger, 2006; Brenes, Mena & Molina, 2008; Crittenden & Crittenden, 2008; Cater & Pucko, 2010). According to Hrebiniak (2005) all these obstacles relate to one of four groups: the change management context, the organizational culture context, the organizational power structure context and the leadership context. Change agents have been suggested as one of the key tools in ensuring more efficient implementation of changes and in ensuring integration of strategies by a number of authors (Ginsberg & Abrahamson, 1991; Burgelman, 1991; Armenakisi & Fredenberger, 1995; Pitt, McAulay & Sims, 2002; Birkenshaw, Hamel & Mol, 2010). Yet, the majority of the research performed on change agents, focuses on leaders as change agents (Yukl, 2002; Lines, 2007; Westover, 2010) and external change agents such as consultants (Armenakisi & Fredenberger, 1995; Greenwood, Hinings & Suddaby, 2002) and not on employees, the internal change agents (Birkenshaw, Hamel & Mol, 2008; Shanker & Sayeed, 2012). Furthermore, change agents have not been studied within the knowledge management literature or in terms of knowledge management strategy implementation. Therefore, the concept of ‘knowledge ambassadors’ will be introduced and explored in this chapter. Knowledge ambassadors serve as change agents in implementing changes through knowledge management strategies integration and in sustaining the organization’s continuous change and development towards effective knowledge sharing in a knowledge company. In the following a framework for this examination will be presented including a mapping of the key aspects of knowledge and knowledge management, knowledge management strategies and -implementation through the use of change agents in the form of knowledge ambassadors.

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