The Institute for Development and Social Initiatives ”Viitorul” designed a guide about Knowledge Management (KM), the process of managing knowledge and solutions for the problems of contemporary societies. It is addressed to research and innovation institutions, and universities, engaged in knowledge and solutions production. The purpose of the document is to help the research and innovation environment to implement KM programs.
The guide has three chapters: the concept of KM is defined, the evolution of KM is described, and provides a synthesis of the theoretical framework. The second chapter describes the steps that must be covered by the institutions that intend to implement KM programs. The last chapter highlights the factors which can lead to the success or failure of the KM implementation.
The guide says that transnational corporations, government agencies, and international institutions implement various KM programs to increase organizational efficiency and competitiveness in a global environment that is in a rapid change. KM programs were implemented in large private sector companies. KM can ensure the increase in productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness of organizations. The study found that the implementation of KM has become commonplace in the financial-banking and insurance sectors, in the medical and military sectors, in transport and telecommunications, in social protection, or by various government agencies. Many national agencies, such as USAID and GIZ, or international development agencies, such as the World Bank, UNDP, and IFAD implement different KM strategies. Universities and research institutions, specifically more and more universities in Southeast Asia, or agricultural research institutions in Africa, opt for various KM techniques and programs.
According to the guide, KM is essential for academia and research institutions both from the perspective of innovation, accelerating the production and dissemination of knowledge, and the perspective of stimulating collaboration and knowledge exchange between researches, a process that contributes to the overall growth of efficiency and productivity. It concerns that research institutions and research departments within universities that effectively implement KM programs have a comparative advantage over similar institutions that do not implement such programs. They have developed a friendly environment, by increasing the innovation level and higher quality product development.
According to the guide, KM is nothing more than finding the best way to identify, generate, and exploit knowledge. The factors that contributed to the development of KM are globalization, competition, and technology. KM is a complex phenomenon that takes place against the background of the organizational culture and is based on three elements: people – to stimulate and nurture the sharing/transmission and use of knowledge; processes or methods, to identify, generate, capture, and share knowledge; technology, to store and make knowledge accessible, as well as to allow interaction between people.
The guide says that KM is a strategic approach that requires human resources, financial resources, and time. The decision to implement KM must be one assumed at the highest level, by the top management of the organization and/or by its founders. The decision implies the commitment to cultivate a new organizational culture and a new level of inter-human relations. The first step is to assess the current state of the organization from the perspective of knowledge and, based on the evolution, to define the purpose and the objectives. Among the most often invoked benefits of KM are: increasing transparency and making it easy to find relevant information and resources; capturing tacit knowledge and codifying it into explicit knowledge; promoter never-ending learning; enabling better and faster decision making; reusing ideas, document, and expertise; avoiding the redundant effort and making the same mistakes twice; communicating important information widely and quickly; providing methods, tools, templates, and examples; making scarce expertise widely available; increasing network connectivity; stimulating innovation and growth.
International practice in the implementation of KM attests to successes and failures. Some empirical studies claim that the failure rate is about 50%, and the number could be even higher if the failure was defined in a broader sense, by including programs that did not live up to expectations. The lack of a feasible and balanced KM Strategy – covering all components: people, processes, and technology, and being implemented in stages, is often the cause of failure invoked most of the times by researchers or consultants in the field. Also, the importance of organizational culture or more precisely the lack of a knowledge-friendly culture. Digitization, the development of Artificial Intelligence, and the change in the way people communicate will bring new challenges for KM program implementation.
The guide Knowledge Management was developed within the Strengthening Knowledge Management for Greater Development Effectiveness in the Near East, North Africa, Central Asia and Europe (SKIM) grand project led by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and funded by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).