Managing Information and Knowledge in the Public Sector. By Eileen Milner.
AGIMO archive | Better Practice Checklist - Knowledge Management
Edition 1st Edition. First Published Imprint Routledge. Pages pages. Export Citation. Get Citation. Milner, E. Back to top Knowledge management KM was a well-founded management approach that held significant benefits for public sector organisations.
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KM as a management philosophy had an impact on various components of an organisation and it could therefore significantly advance organisational efficiency. The successful implementation of KM initiatives had to be ensured because, different organisational processes and departments had to collaborate and functional silos had to be eliminated. KM required long-term commitment and dedication from all organisational members. Furthermore, there were certain knowledge management enablers in an organisation that needed to be developed and that were necessary for the achievement of organisational effectiveness.
Stellenbosch Municipality was used as a case in point. The article further examined how local governments were able to effectively implement KM practices as strategic tools used to achieve service delivery and operational goals. The article concluded with a number of recommended strategies, 1 to develop the KM enablers that were present in organisations and 2 to aid the implementation of successful organisational KM initiatives. Back to top The demand for more efficient and effective delivery of services in South Africa has increased over recent years.
The age of technology where knowledge and information serve as key strategic tools in the organisational context, creates the opportunity for local government organisations to adopt the role of knowledge-based organisations that thrive on the competence of knowledge workers.
Exploring the challenges, trends and issues for knowledge sharing
Through the implementation of KM practices, local governments could be in a position to deliver the best possible services, function effectively and operate in an environment characterised by transparency and accountability. This article examines the question of whether the explicit implementation of a knowledge management KM approach in local government, the primary vehicles for the delivery of services, can enable them to meet delivery demands better. The need for efficient and effective local government services are especially urgent in South Africa. Problem statement.
Back to top A considerable amount of literature about the importance of KM in the organisational context currently exists and these writings all focus on the role of KM in the corporate world. In the government sphere, not many studies have been conducted regarding KM and few have written on the role of KM in the public sector and more specifically, at local government level. It is well-known that KM offers organisations significant opportunities for innovation and change and if applied to local government, the demand for services to be delivered efficiently and effectively will be answered.
The call for the adoption of new processes within municipalities will improve functionality and the quality of outputs. In the current information age and knowledge economy, it is becoming increasingly necessary for organisations to generate and utilise information to obtain a competitive advantage and function efficiently. This notion of obtaining a competitive advantage is not necessarily relevant to the public sector, however, the process of KM has significant implications for the public sector. This implication is especially important for the public sector municipalities , which is largely responsible for service provision to the public.
Local governments in South Africa are subjected to service delivery conditions in terms of detailed legislation set out in the Municipal Systems Act No. However, there are significant problems regarding the implementation of this policy framework at present.
Research objective The goals of the study were, 1 to investigate the extent to which Stellenbosch Municipality demonstrates readiness for implementing KM practices in its organisation through the assessment of existing KM enablers present in that organisation and 2 to identify general principles demonstrated by Stellenbosch Municipality that can be used for wider application in the South African local government sphere. Research strategy.
Back to top Stellenbosch Municipality is a local government organisation in the Western Cape province of South Africa, covering the municipal services rendered to Stellenbosch and the neighbouring towns of Franschhoek and Pniel. This Municipality comprises nine directorates with various sub-departments. The main role players in KM in the Municipality that were focused on in this case study were the Corporate Services, Strategic Services and Financial Services directorates.
Theoretical data were obtained through documentary assessment and empirical data were attained by means of interviews with municipal personnel present in the selected departments. The sampling procedure followed for the study was purposive Schutt The aim was to determine, 1 where knowledge in the organisation is captured, 2 who is responsible for capturing knowledge, 3 by whom and how is knowledge utilised, processed and disseminated and 4 how financial, human and technological resources are employed to facilitate knowledge creation, processing, utilisation and dissemination. Six interviews were conducted on a one-on-one basis with selected interviewees in different positions and departments in the organisation.
Interviewees comprised senior managers and line managers from the selected departments within the Municipality. The interviews conducted were aimed at acquiring the necessary qualitative data, which primarily focused on the degree of awareness, comprehension and general acuity about KM. The data analysis findings were firstly categorised into like groups.
Secondly, a comparative analysis was conducted on the data in the various groups to identify commonalities and differences in the responses generated from the interviews. Finally, the data generated from the case studies was evaluated on the basis of the theories and models identified in the literature review, in order to draw the necessary conclusions and make suitable recommendations, according to Brynard and Hanekom Key concepts.
The growing importance of knowledge in the organisational context has given rise to the concept of KM. However, to comprehend the nature and value of KM, it is important to consider what constitutes knowledge. Morton and Lacey developed a knowledge hierarchy to illustrate the relationship between data, information, knowledge and wisdom. The knowledge hierarchy is widely used to conceptualise knowledge. Two types of knowledge can be distinguished, namely tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge.
Tacit knowledge refers to internalised knowledge encompassing the expertise, skills, understanding and experience within the organisation. Knowledge is gained from social interactions amongst individuals and within the organisation.
Thus, if knowledge is not placed into context and combined with an understanding of how to utilise it, it is merely information Hicks et al. The revised hierarchy provides better insight of where knowledge can be found in an organisation and how to identify it. The revised model indicates that knowledge and information predominantly presides with individuals and records are controlled on the organisational or corporate level. Knowledge is the primary element of any business process, because a tangible deliverable cannot come to pass without adequate knowledge Taylor Thus, it is essential to recognise what knowledge is required to progress towards creating the information and records which invariably reveal that a business process has been concluded Taylor According to Fowler and Pryke , KM involves methodically creating, maintaining and allowing access to the extensive knowledge repositories within an organisation.
Research approach KM must be viewed as a process involving a number of steps and procedures. To conceptualise the contribution of KM to organisational efficiency, it is useful to consider various models of KM, which have been represented in literature on KM.
KM models can be categorised in three broad categories, namely intellectual capital models, knowledge category models and socially constructed models, according to McAdam and Reid The first category, the intellectual capital models aids in the conceptualisation of knowledge.
The second category, the knowledge category models was devised by Nonaka and Takeuchi This socially constructed model draws attention to the four main features of KM, namely that of 1 knowledge construction in organisations, 2 the embodiment of knowledge in the organisation via social interactions, 3 the dissemination of knowledge throughout the organisation and 4 the economic use of knowledge in the organisation which may hold benefits for the employees and organisation on the whole. KM has been identified as a philosophy that has the ability to impact on all aspects of an organisation, specifically the processes, information and communication structures in the organisation De Gooijer In order for KM to contribute to organisational efficiency there is a need for various organisational processes and departments to work together and for functional silos to be eliminated.
KM cannot be imposed on an organisation by management, it is crucial that the initiative enjoys the support of the entire organisation in order to guarantee success.
It is essential to consider the various facets of the organisation and its subsequent impact on the KM initiative. Yeh et al.
A thriving KM process is thus dependent on the interaction between these various organisational elements. These advantages are reflected in more informed decision making, streamlined processes, reduced duplication, more innovation, advanced data integrity and greater cooperation within the organisation. It is important to bear in mind that these advantages can only be achieved if KM is supported by other organisational processes, a suitable structure and an environment that is conducive to enhancing the KM process.
In this regard it is thus necessary to consider the role of the four KM enablers identified by Yeh et al. Data analysis of the enablers It is crucial for the enablers including the organisational structure enabler to be present and properly integrated in an organisation because the implementation of a KM effort will be easier and the organisation will consequently be able to more effectively and efficiently utilise its resources Yeh et al.
Organisational culture The organisational culture refers to the unique combination of values, beliefs and models of behaviour in an organisation. Thus, the manner in which people within an organisation relate to each other, especially in a group and a team situation, is important in the KM process Lehaney et al.
Organisational culture symbolises collective tacit knowledge, which cannot easily be taught or transferred, making it a very difficult process Taylor The effectiveness of KM in the organisation is restricted if an organisation has an all-inclusive KM system in place but does not have a supportive organisational culture.