Knowledge-management in the public sector: Its role in facilitating the delivery of health infrastructure
Kimani, Lydiah Wanjiru L.W.
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Knowledge is recognised as a crucial resource in the knowledge-based economy; and it is believed to drive sustainable success in organizations. Knowledge management (KM) helps organizations identify, create, organize, distribute and transfer vital knowledge among employees within and across organizations. The underlying premise is that good KM leads to efficiency and effectiveness, which in turn, influences the total performance in an organization. Therefore, this study investigates the role of KM practices as they relate to projects in a South African government organisation. The problem was dwelt with by establishing research questions and objectives. In order to answer the research questions, a literature search was conducted in the area of KM to establish the KM enablers, barriers, and processes known to facilitate or hinder successful KM in organizations. This led to the identification of five enablers, including organizational culture, structure, technology, strategy and leadership, as well as the resources believed to be fundamental in the success of KM practices. Barriers to KM were identified as individual, organizational and technological. The study established four KM processes: acquisition, conversion, application and protection that were found to concur with good KM practices. A conceptual model was developed around these areas. The model assisted in developing qualitative and quantitative questions. In order to investigate the proposed research questions, the study identified a single directorate within the department of public works that is directly involved with the delivery of health infrastructure. The methodology used, which was mainly qualitative research, was conducted by using multiple-data evidences, namely: semi-structured interviews, document review; these were sourced from primary and secondary sources, as well as similar organizational best practices in KM. A total of nine interviews were conducted with individuals in managerial positions. A total of 7 of the 30 e-mailed questionnaires were completed and the data were used to supplement the qualitative data. This study used the Content-Analysis Technique approach to analyse the text data obtained from the interviews. It was established that successful KM implementation requires the promotion of an enabling environment. The results from the findings revealed that organizational culture, structure, leadership and strategy, ICT, as well as KM resources form, a foundation for the KM environment. KM processes, such as knowledge-retention, creation, capture, transfer and iv sharing, were found to be fundamental for KM practices to occur. Barriers to effective KM occurred largely due to the lack of awareness and time. To capitalize on knowledge, an organization must be prepared to balance its KM enablers and processes. The existing challenges impeding KM success should be identified and dealt with, in order to realize the KM benefits. The study, therefore, proposes a KM conceptual model to be integrated with the decision-making framework, as an implementation strategy for KM in the public sector. This would ensure an embedded knowledge-intensive environment in the Department, and hence the improvement of infrastructural delivery. This study is limited, since only a single case was used, which plainly suggests that there is a possibility that the results cannot be generalized beyond the researched organisation – without conducting any further study. It is recommended that for future research, this study be replicated through several other directorates, or even departments at various government levels (e.g. national, provincial). Also, quantitative analysis, together with qualitative analysis, should be used to create a triangulation between the two approaches.
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