A Proposed Framework for Designing Sustainable Communities for Knowledge Management Systems

A Proposed Framework for Designing Sustainable Communities for Knowledge Management Systems

Lakshmi Goel (University of Houston, USA) and Elham Mousavidin (University of Houston, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2803-8.ch015
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

Despite considerable academic and practitioner interest in knowledge management, success of knowledge management systems is elusive. This chapter provides a framework which suggests that KM success can be achieved by designing sustainable communities of practice. Communities of practice have proven to have significant economic and practical implications on organizational practices. A growing body of literature in KM recognizes the importance of communities that foster collaborative learning in organizations and almost all KMS have a ‘network’ component that facilitates connecting people in communities of practice. Evidence has shown that communities have been a key element in KMS of many companies including Xerox PARC, British Petroleum Co., Shell Oil Company, Halliburton, IBM, Proctor and Gamble, and Hewlett Packard.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Despite considerable academic and practitioner interest in knowledge management (KM), success of knowledge management systems (KMS) is elusive (Akhavan et al., 2005; Hammer et al., 2004). There is a considerable body of literature that has studied factors for KMS success. Jennex and Olfman (2005) provide a review of KMS success literature and propose a comprehensive framework for evaluation of KMS success. In this chapter, our goal is to contribute to this line of research by identifying how these success factors may be achieved. Specifically, we restrict our scope of inquiry to a certain type of knowledge management systems; those that are designed to support communities of practice (CoP).

Prior literature that has sought to identify important factors in KM success has adopted either the individual level of analysis (e.g., Bock et al., 2005; Kankanhalli et al., 2005), the organizational level of analysis (e.g., Brown & Duguid, 2000), or the technological level of analysis (e.g., Markus et al., 2002). We propose an approach that incorporates research on individuals, organizations, and the technology pertaining to knowledge management to suggest a set of design principles for sustainable communities of practice. Communities of practice have proven to have significant economic and practical implications on organizational practice (Brown & Duguid, 1999, 2000). A growing body of literature in knowledge management recognizes the importance of communities that foster collaborative learning in organizations and almost all knowledge management systems have a ‘network’ component that facilitates connecting people in communities of practice. Evidence has shown that community has been a key element in knowledge management systems of many companies including Xerox PARC, British Petroleum Co., Shell Oil Company, Halliburton, IBM, Proctor and Gamble, and Hewlett Packard (Brown & Gray, 1995; Cohen, 2006; Cross et al., 2006; McDermott, 1999a,1999b).

Attributes of communities of practice, which we believe determine the success or failure of KM initiatives, have been thus far under-researched. KM can benefit from literature in virtual communities that looks at what properties of a community make it sustainable. These properties can then be viewed as a blueprint of what a community needs to have to achieve its function of fostering collaboration and hence, generating knowledge. In sum, this research is intended to help practitioners arrive at how best to design communities in KMS in order to achieve KM success.

KMS success models provide a strategic level process approach to achieving success. KMS success factors provide a means for evaluation of KMS success. Our goal is to suggest how these success factors could be achieved at an operational level. We draw on Jennex and Olfman’s (2005b, 2006) work to arrive at a list of eight success factors that are applicable to our conceptualization of a KMS that supports CoPs. Table 1 below provides a list of these factors.

Table 1.
KMS success factors adopted from Jennex and Olfman (2005b, 2006)
Success FactorDescription
SF1Identification of users, sources, knowledge, and links
SF2Clear articulation of knowledge structure
SF3Motivation and commitment of users
SF4Senior management support
SF5Measures for assessment of appropriate use
SF6Clear goal and purpose
SF7Support for easy knowledge use
SF8Designing work processes to incorporate knowledge capture and use

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset