Original Research

Knowledge management in knowledge-intensive organisations: Understanding its benefits, processes, infrastructure and barriers

Alfred H. Mazorodze, Sheryl Buckley
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 21, No 1 | a990 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v21i1.990 | © 2019 Alfred H. Mazorodze, Sheryl Buckley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 April 2018 | Published: 18 April 2019

About the author(s)

Alfred H. Mazorodze, School of Computing, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Sheryl Buckley, School of Computing, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Knowledge management aims to improve organisational performance and it marks the beginning of organisational transformation. Most knowledge-intensive organisations engage and practise knowledge management without a full understanding of its benefits. A knowledge-intensive organisation is an organisation whose services and operations are heavily reliant on professional knowledge. The study, therefore, provides a solid understanding of knowledge management benefits, processes, infrastructure and barriers in knowledge-intensive organisations.

Objectives: To understand knowledge management, its benefits, processes, infrastructure and barriers in knowledge-intensive organisations. The research objectives extend our understanding of knowledge management in organisations, identify and describe knowledge management benefits. Identification of the most important knowledge management process and associated infrastructure are among other objectives.

Method: A survey was used to solve the problem. A structured questionnaire was used to collect quantitative data from 112 participants from knowledge-intensive firms in Namibia. The quantitative data were analysed using Microsoft Excel 2013 spreadsheet package.

Results: The study has revealed that the prime benefit of knowledge management in knowledge-intensive organisations is to allow improved knowledge flow, thereby enhancing the capability of the organisation to manage change with more than 50% representation of the participants. In addition to that, the study also found that knowledge sharing is the most important knowledge management process, among other processes such as knowledge creation, knowledge capture and knowledge reuse. All the participants (100%) concurred that a flat organisational structure supports knowledge sharing. The research findings have further discovered that the biggest barrier to effective knowledge management is the lack of budget to support knowledge management efforts. This was represented by 67.9% of the participants. Lack of executive support and lack of time were also among the great barriers with 57.1% and 52.7%, respectively.

Conclusion: Knowledge management allows improved knowledge flow in knowledge-intensive organisations. We can, therefore, conclude that the participants believed that knowledge sharing is more important than creation, capturing, transferring and reuse. It is, therefore, important to underscore that knowledge sharing should be taken as a priority if organisations are to remain competitive. Research results have also revealed that a flat organisational structure is the best for knowledge sharing. For improved organisational performance, knowledge management barriers must be removed with the assistance of management.


Keywords

Knowledge management; knowledge sharing; management barriers; organisational performance; communities of practice.

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