Knowledge Management Implementation: HR Executives Speak Out

By McCuiston, Velma E.; Jamrog, Jay J. | Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, January 2005 | Go to article overview

Knowledge Management Implementation: HR Executives Speak Out


McCuiston, Velma E., Jamrog, Jay J., Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship


Executive Summary

This article reports the results of the most recent Human Resource Institute's study of knowledge management. The major focus of the study is on the intent, support, and participation that effect the success of knowledge management system implementation. Particular emphasis is placed on HR functions in rewarding and training for sharing knowledge and on creating and maintaining a knowledge-sharing corporate culture. A concise review of the evolution of knowledge management concepts identifies the changes and still-unanswered questions concerning the next generation of knowledge management. An identification of the social and economic forces affecting the increasing demands for the knowledge worker and the rapidly decreasing labor supply accentuate the imminent need for KM systems. Following the discussion of the study results, the authors conclude with implications for HR's role as strategic partner and champion in knowledge management system implementation success.

Knowledge Management Implementation: HR Executives Speak Out

The evolving knowledge management (KM) field is of particular importance to today's human resource (HR) professional. The rapidly increasing global demand for the knowledge worker and the opposing decreasing labor supply are cause for both concern and action. As 43% of the U.S. civilian labor force will be eligible for retirement in the next decade and the 35-44 year olds will decline 15% by 2015, there will be an endemic talent shortage within knowledgeintensive professional, skilled, and top leadership ranks (Jamrog & McCann, 2003). The looming labor shortage is made even more critical by the failure of the U. S. education system to deliver graduates who are perceived to be qualified to enter the workforce (SHRM, 2002). The remainder of this article will first present the current state of KM through a brief discussion of its evolution, challenges, and management strategies. second, the authors will discuss the results of a recent online study of KM from the perspective of HR executives. Lastly, the authors will discuss implications for corporate management and the recommended leadership and champion roles of HR in KM implementation success.

Evolution of Knowledge Management

Numerous articles have been written tracing the chronological evolution of KM from its initial information management era to its emerging knowledge engineering era (Barclay & Murray, 1997; Anklam, 2002; Canton, 2003). No discussion of KM would be complete without recognizing the contributions of trailblazers such as Drucker, 1995,1999; Demerest, 1997; Stewart, 1997; O'Dell, et al., 1999; Sveiby, 2001; Davenport & Prusak, 1997; and Davenport, et at., 2002. The epistemology of KM has been described over time either theoretically by models (McAdam & McCreedy, 1999) or pragmatically by generations or eras (Steyn, 2003).

Information Era

A more general approach to understanding the evolution of KM is to identify the three generations of KM thought and the progress of business technology that supports each. The first generation of KM called techno-centric or Information Era, was technology centered and focused on delivering information to support a task. It was concerned with transforming knowledge and individual performance, but was not concerned with knowledge creation or organizational learning (Steyn, 2003; Bassi, 1997; Martensson, 2000; O'Connell, 1999; Boisot, 1987). The terms tacit and explicit knowledge (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995) and codified and diffused knowledge (Boisot, 1987) were generated during this era. This Techno-centric generation was paralleled by the first generation of business technology enterprises (Canton, 2003) which focused on storing, categorizing, and delivering information.

Knowledge Era

The second generation of KM the social-cultural-centric or Knowledge Era, regarded knowledge as a new source of competitive advantage. …

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