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Uncovering cultural perceptions and barriers during knowledge audit

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PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to introduce and illustrate the importance of uncovering tacit perceptions during knowledge management (KM) audit, in order to identify cultural barriers that may interfere with KM initiatives. The goal of such KM initiatives is to leverage a firm's capacity to efficiently produce value from knowledge held by employees and embedded in processes. Current audit practices analyze the explicit information gained through interviews and questionnaires, focusing on the organization's culture, existing KM processes and the improved KM processes it wishes to implement. The paper seeks to suggest an approach for uncovering and analyzing tacit perceptions identified through interviews and discussions as an inherent part of KM audit. Design/methodology/approachThe research was conducted during a KM audit in a large international software development organization. The research methodology was composed of two disciplines. The first, used for data collection, was a knowledge-engineering and management methodology ‐ the CommonKADS. The second, used for qualitative data analysis, was the grounded theory approach. FindingsThe KM activities currently taking place in the organization include creation, sharing, access, usage, and maintenance. In interviews and discussions, access was the most emphasized activity. The cultural barriers that were identified relate to the KM roles and responsibilities that occur in daily work. A business process analysis revealed different perspectives of KM from different stakeholders. Research limitations/implicationsThe findings of this study are based on a large, multi-located and highly distributed, yet single organization. Additional research needs to be conducted in order to further validate and generalize the findings. Practical implicationsThe principle of identifying tacit perceptions and cultural barriers illustrated in the study may be beneficial in any organization. Identifying the issues that need to be addressed before implementing a KM solution is critical for a successful implementation. Originality/valueThe paper introduces the concept of uncovering tacit perceptions in order to identify cultural barriers that may interfere with a KM initiative. For this purpose, an analysis method was developed and used during a KM audit. Using this audit practice prior to a KM project will enable a better understanding of the risks and challenges that need to be managed to ensure success.
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Keywords: Auditing; Culture (sociology); Knowledge management; Perception

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-02-23

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