An Object and Performance Framework for Implementation of Web-Based Knowledge Sharing Technology

Article excerpt

Abstract

Any e-organization, whether it is commercial or governmental, requires a knowledge management support in order to achieve optimal performance. Many of the technologies that serve the operations of such organizations can also support knowledge management to facilitate efficient knowledge sharing and reuse. Thus, eorganizations should be at the forefront in the use of knowledge management. This paper examines systems of knowledge management used in large organizations. The limitations of traditional organizational schemes are examined, including the tie to the traditional pre-digital knowledge unit, the multi-page document. An action research approach is taken towards the question of how we improve upon traditional approaches using the technology available in conjunction with approaches arising from organizational research. A new framework is described where knowledge is packaged into objects and classified by organizational performance roles and goals. A prototype implementation of the framework was developed in order to test its feasibility. Evaluation of the prototype suggests that the system could result in a more intuitive organizational framework that enables workers to obtain appropriate knowledge support in a timely manner without the need for extensive search, and also facilitates greater reuse and sharing of knowledge.

Key words: Knowledge management, Learning organizations, Performance improvement, Knowledge objects, Action research

1 Introduction

One of the most important parts of any organization, especially those that are or aspire to be e-organizations, is the knowledge that employees acquire and apply to tasks during their working lives [20], [33]. Knowledge management (KM) has arisen as the study of both organizational and technological approaches to support the necessary knowledge distribution. The increase in businesses using distributed, virtual, and remote employees [1] has further emphasized the need to incorporate technology to connect people and knowledge. Included in this trend is the increasing globalization of corporations and the need to develop cross-cultural perspectives on knowledge. There is a greater need for different organizations and businesses to communicate and share knowledge across organizational boundaries. This includes internal boundaries between different functional units and external boundaries to collaborating organizations and contractors that tend to have different knowledge cultures.

There has also been an increasing recognition of the social dimension of knowledge creation and management and criticism of the traditional approach to KM [18], [27]. The so-called "water cooler" effect, in which important knowledge is transmitted among people at social spaces, is often cited as an example of this. In this trend we are specifically dealing with what is known as ''tacit'' knowledge [41]. The term relates to informally communicated knowledge that is difficult to record into a formally structured document. Recently, there has been much hype around Web 2.0 technologies that emphasize informal knowledge and resource sharing of the kind seen in collaborative sharing sites such as Flickr and YouTube. The involvement of end-users in the categorization and review of such content [21] is an important aspect that deserves to be considered within new approaches to KM.

It could be argued that many approaches to KM have not caught up with these trends. This paper will examine the trends and implications for the design of KM support. It will consider the problem of knowledge silos in organizations and the need for a new framework for dealing with knowledge in organizations, one organized around the needs of the organization and its individual workers. The central question that motivates this examination is the potential for developing an alternative model for digitally organizing knowledge- a model that is more user-centered and better facilitates knowledge reuse and sharing. …