A Model of Knowledge Management Success

A Model of Knowledge Management Success

Murray E. Jennex, Lorne Olfman
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-709-6.ch002
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This chapter describes a knowledge management (KM), Success Model that is derived from observations generated through a longitudinal study of KM in an engineering organization, KM success factors found in the literature, and modified by the application of these observations and success factors in various projects. The DeLone and McLean (1992, 2003) IS Success Model was used as a framework for the model as it was found to fit the observed success criteria and it provided an accepted theoretical basis for the proposed model.
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Knowledge Management, KM, and Knowledge Management System, KMS, success is an issue needing to be explored. The Knowledge Management Foundations workshop held at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences in January 2006 discussed this issue and reached agreement that it is important for the credibility of the KM discipline that we be able to define KM success. Also, Turban and Aronson (2001) list three reasons for measuring the success of KM and a KMS:

  • To provide a basis for company valuation

  • To stimulate management to focus on what is important

  • To justify investments in KM activities.

All are good reasons from an organizational perspective. Additionally, from the perspective of KM academics and practitioners, identifying the factors/constructs/variables that define KM success is crucial to understanding how these initiatives and systems should be designed and implemented. It is the purpose of this paper to present a model that specifies and describes the antecedents of KM/KMS success so that researchers and practitioners can predict if a specific KM/KMS initiative will be successful. The paper assumes that KM and KMS success cannot be separated; this is based on a broad, Churchman view of what constitutes a KMS and a definition of success that is not reliant solely on technical effectiveness. The other basic assumption for this paper is that success and effectiveness, as used in the KM literature, are synonymous terms. The remainder of the paper uses the term KM to refer to KM and KMS and success to refer to success and effectiveness. The reasoning for these assumptions is discussed later in the paper.

The proposed KM Success Model is an explication of the widely accepted DeLone and McLean IS Success Model, which was used as it was able to be modified to fit the observations and data collected in a longitudinal study of Organizational Memory, OM, and KM, it fit success factors found in the KM literature, and the resulting KM Success Model was useful in predicting success when applied to the design and implementation of a KM initiative and/or a KMS. Additionally, the stated purpose of the DeLone and McLean (1992, 2003) IS Success Model is to be a generalized framework describing success dimensions that researchers can adapt and define specific contexts of success (DeLone and McLean, 2003). Before presenting the KM Success Model we will discuss the concepts of knowledge, KM, KMS, and KM/KMS success. We will then briefly discuss the DeLone and McLean (1992, 2003) IS Success Model, present the KM Success Model, and discuss the differences. We will conclude by summarizing studies that support the KM Success Model and present operationalizations that can be used to evaluate the constructs used to define the KM Success Model dimensions.


Knowledge, Om, And Km

Alavi and Leidner (2001) summarize and extend the significant literature relating to knowledge, knowledge management, and knowledge management systems. They view organizational knowledge and OM as synonymous labels as do Jennex and Olfman (2002). This is useful as it allows for the combination of research results from OM and KM. It is also born out in the literature. Huber, Davenport, and King (1998) summarize OM as the set of repositories of information and knowledge that the organization has acquired and retains. Stein and Zwass (1995) define OM as the means by which knowledge from the past is brought to bear on present activities resulting in higher or lower levels of organizational effectiveness, and Walsh and Ungson (1991) define OM as stored information from an organization's history that can be brought to bear on present decisions.

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