A Social and Technical Investigation of Knowledge Utilization from a Repository Knowledge Management System

A Social and Technical Investigation of Knowledge Utilization from a Repository Knowledge Management System

Kamla Ali Al-Busaidi (Sultan Qaboos University, Oman)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-783-8.ch815

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The need for developing countries to empower themselves through knowledge management (KM) cannot be underestimated. Knowledge plays a major role in individuals’ learning and decision making capabilities. It improves an individual’s ability to take an effective action (Huber, 1991; Nonaka, 1994). Thus, KM has become one of the main imperatives of knowledge-based economy. KM is driven by increasing knowledge domain complexity, accelerating marketing volatility, intensifying speed of responsiveness and diminishing individual experience (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004).

Knowledge management systems (KMS) are IT-based systems that support and boost the organizational processes of knowledge creation, storage/retrieval, transfer, and application (Alavi & Leidner 2001). KMS also are defined as “the applications resulting from the synergy between the latest technologies and social/structural mechanisms” (Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004, p.7). They offer organizations an efficient and effective way to create knowledge repositories that can be utilized to improve employees’ performance and productivity. Two common KMS models are repository KMS and network KMS (Alavi 2000; Davenport & Prusak, 1998). Empirical studies have indicated that the use of KMS results in several benefits for organizations such as improved operating performance (Jennex & Olfman, 2006; Liu & Tsai, 2007), learning and innovative performance (Chang & Lee, 2007; Jiang & Lia, 2008). Moreover, KMS improve developing nations’ and their organizations' efforts to manage their knowledge, and consequently build their human resources (World Bank, 1998; World Bank, 2003).

However, KM and KMS benefits can be actually achieved through knowledge utilization (Alavi, 2000; Scholl et al., 2004).Hence, knowledge utilization is critical to the success of repository KMS. Knowledge utilization is the application of the stored knowledge to solve daily work problems and make decisions. Knowledge utilization, however, is inhibited by several corporate cultural issues such as “Not-Invented here (NIH) syndrome” (Katz & Allen, 1982), lack of time, and risk aversion (Davenport & Prusak, 1998). Thus, knowledge utilization from repository KMS is a social and technical process. An effective knowledge utilization process will be achieved only by an effective integration of technical and social factors. The need for this investigation has been stressed in both management and knowledge management systems literatures (O’Dell & Grayson, 1998; Scholl et al., 2004).

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