An Assessment of the Readiness for Knowledge Management .An Assessment of the Readiness for Knowledge

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An Assessment of the Readiness for Knowledge Management in the Western Cape Department of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Tourism

A Research Report

presented to

The Graduate School of Business

University of Cape Town

in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the

Masters of Business Administration Degree

by

Shanil Haricharan and Roland Moollan

November 2001

Supervisor: Mr Kurt April

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This report is not confidential. The Graduate School of Business may use it freely.

Our heartfelt thanks to our spouses, Hanne and Nichola, and baby Milan for their love support

and understanding.

We wish to thank Dr Harold Wesso, project sponsor, Alex van Breda, Nicollete Fielies, and

Lucinda Williams from the Department of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Tourism for

their co-ordination of the research project in their department. We also thank the senior

managers who participated in the interviews, and all the staff members who completed the

questionnaire. We appreciate their time and valuable insights into this research.

We are grateful to Associate Professor Trevor Wegner for his valuable advice on the data

analysis.

We are greatly indebted to Kurt April for his insightful comments and guidance on the subject

of knowledge management.

We certify that this report is our own work and all references are accurately reported.

signed:

SHANIL HARICHARAN ROLAND WILLIAM MOOLLAN

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An Assessment of the Readiness for Knowledge Management in the Western Cape

Department of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Tourism

ABSTRACT

The knowledge-intensive economy implies a need for faster adaptation to an accelerated

change in the environment of public policies and service delivery. The Department of

Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Tourism (DEAAT), in the Provincial Government:

Western Cape, is responsible for the implementation of the Cape Online programme, through

the creation of structures, systems and processes that support e-government.

This research report assesses the knowledge management processes creation, sharing,

application and retention in the DEAAT to determine its readiness for knowledge

management initiatives. The research findings indicate an overall moderate level of readiness

for knowledge management with the key inhibitors being the bureaucratic structure and

organisational culture. A framework for the implementation of knowledge management

initiatives is proposed.

KEYWORDS: Knowledge, knowledge management, knowledge economy, knowledge

management processes, public sector, e-government, information and communication

technology

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................ 8

2 THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY AND E-GOVERNMENT ............................................... 10

3 PERSPECTIVES ON KNOWLEDGE ..................................................................................... 21

4 MANAGING ORGANISATIONAL KNOWLEDGE............................................................. 25

5 ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK FOR KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT .......................... 29 KNOWLEDGE CREATION ................................................................................................................................... 29

KNOWLEDGE RETENTION.................................................................................................................................. 34

KNOWLEDGE SHARING ..................................................................................................................................... 35

KNOWLEDGE APPLICATION............................................................................................................................... 36

6 THE INSTITUTIONAL CONTEXT........................................................................................ 37 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT): ENABLER OR DRIVER ................................................................................. 37

ALIGNMENT OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT WITH BUSINESS STRATEGY ........................................................ 39

ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE............................................................................................................................. 40

COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE ............................................................................................................................. 41

7 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR............................................ 42

8 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY.............................................................................................. 45 OBJECTIVES AND HYPOTHESIS.......................................................................................................................... 45

RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS: THEORETICAL UNDERPINNING ............................................................................... 46

SOURCES OF PRIMARY DATA............................................................................................................................ 49

SAMPLING PLAN 50

8.1.1 Sampling Unit Selection ................................................................................................................ 51

DATA COLLECTION 53

8.1.2 Questionnaire Design.................................................................................................................... 53

DATA ANALYSIS 56

8.1.3 Data Preparation .......................................................................................................................... 56

8.1.4 Descriptive Statistical Methods..................................................................................................... 56

8.1.5 Graphical Representations............................................................................................................ 57

8.1.6 Measures of Association................................................................................................................ 57

9 KEY FINDINGS ......................................................................................................................... 60 FACTOR ANALYSIS 61

INHIBITORS TO KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT.................................................................................................... 64

10 ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION............................................................................................... 65 CONCEPTUAL UNDERSTANDING OF KM............................................................................................................ 65

ALIGNMENT OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT WITH BUSINESS STRATEGY ........................................................ 66

KM PROCESSES IN THE DEAAT....................................................................................................................... 68

INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY...................................................................................... 74

INTER- AND INTRA- DEPARTMENTAL INFORMATION FLOWS............................................................................. 76

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11 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK FOR THE DEAAT.............................. 78 CREATING AWARENESS .................................................................................................................................... 78

CHOOSING KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT INITIATIVES....................................................................................... 83

12 CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................................... 90

13 REFERENCES ........................................................................................................................... 91

14 APPENDICES APPENDIX 1: SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT'S SUPPORT FOR ICT

APPENDIX 2: WESTERN CAPE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT'S POLICY OBJECTIVES

APPENDIX 3: TRADITIONS OF WEDTERN EPISTEMOLOGY

APPENDIX 4: THE KNOWLEDGE MANGEMENT DIAGNOSTIC QUESTIONNAIRE

APPENDIX 5: DEAAT SENIOR MANAGEMENT INTERVIEWS

APPENDIX 6: DATA FROM QUESTIONNAIRES

APPENDIX 7: BOX AND WISKER PLOTS OF QUESTIONNAIRE SCORES

APPENDIX 8: FACTOR ANALYSIS RESULTS

APPENDIX 9: SCREE PLOT

APPENDIX 10: CHI SQUARED STATISTICS

APPENDIX 11: THEMES EMERGING FROM THE FACTOR ANALYSIS

APPENDIX 12: FACTOR ANALYSIS FINDINGS ON THE QUESTIONS ON KNOWLEDGE

CREATION

APPENDIX 13: FACTOR ANALYSIS FINDINGS ON THE QUESTIONS ON KNOWLEDGE SHARING

APPENDIX 14: FACTOR ANALYSIS FINDINGS ON THE QUESTIONS ON KNOWLEDGE

APPLICATION

APPENDIX 15: FACTOR ANALYSIS FINDINGS ON THE QUESTIONS ON KNOWLEDGE

RETENTION

APPENDIX 16: INTERPRETATION OF THE KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SCORES

APPENDIX 17: GUIDELINE FOR CREATING A KNOWLEDGE ASSET

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LIST OF TABLES

Page

TABLE 1: The transition from the industrial society to the knowledge society ...................