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Long-term retention of key personnel in public utilities is essential for the preservation of institutional knowledge required for the efficient operation of an organization. Several future trends have been identified as having the potential to compromise a public utilities knowledge base. With the retirement of the baby-boom generation in the horizon, many public utilities will inevitably face losing experience and knowledge compiled by key members of their staff over decades of service.

The ensuing exodus of knowledge creates a gap in operational continuity, which can ultimately hamper a public utilities ability to carry on its mission effectively and significantly increase opportunities for operational mistakes. Exacerbating this problem is a significant workforce reduction expected from the population gap that exists between the baby-boom generation and Generation X. Hence, utilities must come up with creative approaches for the replacement of babyboom generation staff, given a limited workforce pool that for similar reasons will be aggressively pursued by the private sector.

Utilities must therefore enact systemic approaches to ensure that knowledge is maintained and not transferred from the organization as a result of these trends. Strategic approaches must be developed to ensure that explicit knowledge (“hard knowledge”) and tacit knowledge (“soft knowledge”) are not exported along with people as they leave the organization. Knowledge management systems provide a platform for the retention and sharing of explicit knowledge that resides within an organization.

Comparable to how utilities manage tangible assets, “intellectual capital” or knowledge must also be managed in order to maintain continuity within an organization. This paper presents the implementation of a knowledge management system by the City of North Miami Beach for the retention and sharing of intellectual capital within its water utility.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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