A study of knowledge management leadership

For the purpose of the assignment, the telecommunication industry was chosen from the services industry from Great Britain. Vodafone Group plc. (LSE: VOD, NASDAQ: VOD), being a British multinational mobile network operator headquartered in Newbury, England has established prominent state within the business world. Vodafone is the world’s largest mobile telecommunication network company, and has a market value of about £71.2 billion (November 2009). A multinational corporation (MNC) or transnational corporation (TNC), also called multinational enterprise (MNE), is a corporation or an enterprise that manages production or delivers services in more than one country. It can also be referred to as an international corporation. The first modern multinational corporation is generally thought to be the East India Company. It currently has operations in 31 countries and partner networks in a further 40 countries. It is the world’s second largest mobile phone operator behind China Mobile and over Telephonic based on subscribers, with over 427 million subscribers in 31 markets across 5 continents as of 2009. In the UK, its home ground, Vodafone has badly underperformed in the last few years due to brisk change in administration. It has slipped from first to third largest telecom operator generating revenue of £4.9 billion from its 18.7 million customers in 2008-09. As of March 31, 2009, the company employs more than 79,000 people worldwide. The name Vodafone comes from voice data fone, chosen by the company to “reflect the provision of voice and data services over mobile phones”. (BBC, 2009)

Vodafone has been working and operating within many countries and have created several opportunities of working with local companies. February 2010, Vodafone announced that it is bringing M-PESA, one of the world’s most successful mobile money transfer services, to South Africa, to be deployed by its subsidiary, Vodacom South Africa and its South African banking partner. With approximately 26 million people in South Africa without official bank accounts, M-PESA will enable millions of mobile phone subscribers who have access to a mobile phone, but do not have or have only limited access to a bank account, to send and receive money via their mobile phones. The M-PESA service was developed by Vodafone and has already been deployed by Safari com in Kenya, Vodacom in Tanzania and Roshan in Afghanistan (branded M-Paisa). More than 11 million registered customers now rely on their mobile phones for money transfer, airtime top-up and bill payments. Vodafone takes an unusual tack with successful candidates. Vodafone feeds back information on how people performed into their development plans – as no one is ever a 100 per cent fit. The assessment process is constantly re-evaluated, with employees being assessed regularly on their background and personality. It also tracks new hires on attrition, sickness absence, performance in training and performance in the job.

The process clearly works. “They recruit fewer people than before because there assessment process has had such a positive effect on both attrition and performance. There’s a key attrition measure in call centres at 13 weeks into the job. It’s the first pinch-point. They’ve improved there dramatically by selecting the right people at the outset.

There are several factors that influence the working of multinational companies such as market imperfections and international powers. For the company under consideration, the market imperfections are the possibility of not knowing the local laws, local customers or businesses. The international power factors could be tax exemption, market withdrawal, lobbying, patents and government powers.

The SECI model (the acronym stands for Socialization, Externalization, Combination, Internalization) was first proposed in 1991 (Nonaka 1991), though was refined and expanded for a broader audience in the popular book The Knowledge Creating Company (Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995). The SECI model met with broad acceptance, especially among management practitioners, due to its intuitive logic and clear delineation of knowledge types between tacit and explicit knowledge-utilising this knowledge delineation first espoused in management theory by Polanyi (1958). The core behavioural assumption in the model is that knowledge creating companies continually encourage the flow of knowledge between individuals and staff groups to improve both tacit and explicit knowledge stocks. Thus, knowledge value is created through synergies between knowledge holders (both individual and group) within a supportive and developmental organisational context.

Figure (The Key Elements of the SECI Model, In the above diagram, the I, G, and O symbols represent individuals) group and organization

In 1998 a third, more challenging, cultural assumption was added to the SECI discussion.

Nonaka and Konno (1998) introduced the Japanese concept of Ba, a philosophical construct rooted in Japanese society that relates to the physical, relational and spiritual elements of ‘place’, or perhaps more expansively ‘context’.

In the strategic management and organisational theory literatures, organisations are increasingly conceptualised in terms of their knowledge and capabilities (Poppo & Zenger 1998), and less in terms of their physical and financial assets. Further, organisational alliances that draw together firms are being viewed as conduits for information and knowledge flows between organisations (Grant & Baden-Fuller 2004).

Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) sometimes referred to as multinational companies, are enterprises that control economic assets in other countries – generally this means controlling at least a 10% share of such an asset. These companies command enormous financial resources, possess vast technical resources and have extensive global reach. In 2002, the most recent year for which full data are available, FDI made throughout the world totalled some $651bn. While most FDI goes to developed countries; for developing countries it is by far the largest source of external finance. The figures are striking:

In 2002 $162bn in FDI went to developing countries. By comparison, official development assistance (ODA) amounts to some $58bn annually and remittances, another significant source of funds for poor countries, totalled $93bn in 2003.

Above mentioned picture shows that Developed market multinationals gives more emphasis to Process & Technology and Organizational Architecture. Their operating model is process & technology driven and results were judged on the basis of performance metrics. They give very less importance to Leadership skills & Inter-personal relationship between people however opposite is true for Emerging Market multinationals where more emphasis is given to Leadership & Inter-personal relationship between people and less importance is given to process & technology, organizational Architecture & metrics.

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For Example: In the oil and gas industry, for instance, emerging-market NOCs do not seem to rely as systematically on the strict net-present-value metric that IOCs use in their decision-making process-which is consistent with a more-risk conscious leadership style. Rather than adopting this metric, NOCs change the game by creating deals that involve aid and infrastructure packages. This signals a market development mind-set as opposed to a market-exploitation mind-set.

Knowledge Management plan:


Knowledge Management (or KM) refers to the processes and/or tools an organization uses to collect, analyse, store, and disseminate its intellectual capital. Besides deployment of appropriate technology and processes by a business enterprise in order to maintain and retain its intellectual capital, effective KM also refers to making optimum use of experience and understanding of organizational knowledge, in general. This includes a wide range of information artefacts, such as inherent knowledge-based documents (reports) available internally within the organization, as well as related information from the external resources.


A logical extension of this concept is into the entire organization, in the form of Enterprise Knowledge Management (EKM). Among the areas of greatest concern for the modern knowledge worker (from CIO down to the Content Manager), is identifying, collecting, securing and maintaining the information (aka knowledge base) of the organization. Without a process to ensure this system’s usefulness, there are invariably holes which are only found when a user tries to obtain that (missing) information.

As Intellectual Capital

This intellectual capital can include training materials, processes, procedures, documents, ideas, skills, experiences, and much more. An effective Knowledge management plan allows a company to quickly and easily share this intellectual capital among the organization so it is available on-demand at any time it is needed. (EEC)

KM Types

KM can take many forms, depending on the purpose and requirements. The following is a partial list of related types of KM from which an organization may select one or many:

Content Management

Data Management

Records Management

Document Management


Online Education

Information Architecture

Knowledge Discovery

Knowledge Retrieval

KM Storage

Methods of storing and sharing this intellectual capital include searchable knowledge bases, Learning Management Systems, other types of databases, enterprise portals, groupware tools, and email.

KM Leadership

Knowledge management leadership, in terms of position types and their associated titles, covers a broad category of positions and responsibilities. Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO), like any executive-level corporate leader, handles for enterprise-wide coordination of all KM-related issues and projects.

Few corporations maintain a CKO or equivalent officer within their organization. More likely, this responsibility would fall either within the scope of the CIO or a director-level Knowledge Manager. Various categories within the lower-level Knowledge Management career field may be: Knowledge Analyst (Content Manager), Knowledge Engineer (Software Specialist), or, Knowledge Steward (Librarian). These are general career titles, since a specific taxonomy does not currently exist which applies to all organizations or positions within the emerging field of KM.

Most of the challenges in knowledge management primarily stem from the types of knowledge reuse situations and purposes. Knowledge workers may produce knowledge that they themselves reuse while working. However, each knowledge re-use situation is unique in terms of requirements and context. Whenever these differences between the knowledge re-use situations are ignored, the organization faces various challenges in implementing its knowledge management practices. The Knowledge Management system enables employees to have ready access to the institutional documented base of facts, information sources and solutions. A typical claim justifying the creation of a KM system might run something like this: an engineer could know the mobile applications can help in transferring money to other countries without any security concerns. Sharing these information’s widely could lead to more valuable money transfer plan leading to ideas for new or improved equipment. Following factors incorporate management system such as

Purpose: the Knowledge Management System depends upon explicit knowledge management objectives towards collaboration, effective practice and team work.

Context: Knowledge is information that is significantly well thought-out, accumulated and embedded in a framework of creation and application.

Processes: Knowledge Management System are always developed to sustain and extend knowledge-intensive processes, tasks or projects of e.g., designing, construction, identification, capturing, acquirement, variety, valuation, organization, linking, structuring, formalization, evolution, accessing, visualization, transfer, distribution, retention, maintenance, refinement, revision, retrieval and last but not least the application of knowledge, also called the knowledge life cycle (KLC).

Participants: KMS designs are held to reflect that knowledge is developed collectively and that the “distribution” of knowledge leads to its continuous change, reconstruction and application in different contexts, by different participants with differing backgrounds and experiences. Although this is not necessarily the case. Employees can engage in recreation the roles of active, involved participants in knowledge networks and communities fostered by Knowledge Management System.

Instruments: KMS support KM instruments, e.g., the capture, creation and sharing of the modifiable aspects of practice, skill management systems, collaborative filtering and handling of interests used to hook up people, the creation and fostering of communities or knowledge networks, the creation of corporate knowledge directories, taxonomies or ontologies, expertise locators.

KM systems are being used within many transnational organizations with many success stories. The advantages claimed by the KM systems are:

Sharing valuable institutional information throughout organizational hierarchy: Knowledge and information sharing are regarded as means to use resources more effectively in order to reduce costs and gain a competitive advantage (cf. Chuang, 2004; Johannessen and Olsen, 2003; Ringel-Bickelmaier, 2000; North, 2005). As a common feature, all international organizations work within the restraint of a tight regular budget that needs to be managed as effectively and ef¬ciently as possible. Almost all international organizations have accordingly installed controlling systems or rede¬ned their tasks as business cases. It includes creating plans such as helping in identifying, create, capture and share knowledge systematically in order to assist working smarter rather than harder. Modern strategies for improved reputation advertising capabilities and getting resource returns for further enhance development agenda; Widened pool of targeted knowledge makes organizational learning more strategic as Efficiency gains though improved results.

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Through the systematic system, the companies can avoid re-discovering the wheel, reducing outmoded work as well as committing same mistake again and again. It helps the businesses to improve the cost; time spent as well the better risk management.

May lessen new employee’s training time.

After the employee leaves, retention of Intellectual Property if knowledge can be codified.

Knowledge sharing behaviours and facilitate knowledge transfer

This study aims to examine the factors affecting knowledge sharing behavior in knowledge-based communities because quantity and quality of knowledge shared among the members play a critical role in the community’s sustainability. Past research has suggested three perspectives that may affect the quantity and quality of knowledge shared: economics, social psychology, and social ecology. In this study, we strongly believe that an economic perspective may be suitable to validate factors influencing newly registered members, knowledge contribution at the beginning of relationship development. Accordingly, this study proposes a model to validate the factors influencing members’ knowledge sharing based on Transaction Cost Theory. By doing so, we may empirically test our hypotheses in various types of communities to determine the generalizability of our research models.

Benefits to sharing knowledge include:

Enhancement of effectiveness and efficiency by spreading good ideas and practices.

Cost effectiveness – knowledge is developed and then re-used by many people.

Time savings – Professionals learn from their mistakes and those of others.

Emotional relief and decreased tension are experienced when problems are shared.

Bonds and connections between professionals are strengthened; solving problems brings people together.

More sophisticated ideas, insights and information sources are applied to problems resulting in better solutions.

Innovation and discovery increase as does: excitement, engagement and motivation.

A feeling of satisfaction from sharing knowledge, much like giving charity, results from making a contribution to society.

Respectful ways of using knowledge – with attribution and permission — benefit the person who generates the knowledge and the person who shares it.

Management Development plan

Management Development is the process by which managers learn and improve their expertise not only to benefit themselves but also their employing organisations.

There are various approaches to management development programmes such as follow.


Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.” Eric Parsloe, the Oxford School of Coaching.

Mentoring is a technique for allowing the transmission of knowledge, skills and experience in a supportive and challenging environment much like coaching. The same skills of inquiring, listening, clarifying, reframing and many of the same models are used. Mentoring can also work as a way of inducting employees, as a form of employee’s development across departments and as a means of simple skills transfer. However, mentoring relationships can be much more long term, for example in a sequence planning scenario a regional finance director might be mentored by a group level counterpart where they might learn the basics of dealing with the boardroom, presenting to analysts, challenging departmental budgets, etc. all in a supportive environment. This is particularly productive when there is a gender or ethnic dimension to the relationship. An effective mentoring liaison is a learning opportunity for both parties. Mentoring relationships work best when they move beyond the directive approach of a senior colleague telling it how it is, to one where both learn from each other.

Management Coaching and Development

The challenge of maintaining competitive advantage, delivering growth plans, restructuring and downsizing has never been greater. Developing people to deliver to their maximum potential can mean the difference between success and failure. And successful organisations know that developing their people not only leads to increased business performance, but that it is also a key factor in staff engagement and retention. In tough times, organisations that axe development activity do so at their peril.


Although there is a lack of agreement among coaching professionals about precise definitions, in this service company, Coaching as developing a person’s skills and knowledge so that their job performance improves, hopefully leading to the achievement of organisational objectives. It targets high performance and improvement at work, although it may also have an impact on an individual’s private life. It usually lasts for a short period and focuses on specific skills and goals.

There are some generally agreed characteristics of coaching in organisations:

It is essentially a non-directive form of development.

Coaching assumes that the individual is psychologically well and does not require a clinical intervention.

It provides people with feedback on both their strong point and their weaknesses.

It is a skilled activity which should be delivered by trained people.

It focuses on improving presentation and developing individuals’ skills.

Personal issues may be discussed but the emphasis is on performance at work.

Coaching activities have both organisational and individual goals.

Job rotation

Job design technique in which employees are moved between two or more jobs in a planned manner. In Vodafone the objective is to expose the employees to different experiences and wider variety of skills to enhance job satisfaction and to cross-train them.

Job rotation is a great way to discover your strength and interest in different areas of the Vodafone.

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On the job training

This will be for the assistants who join fresh to help managers. A mapping procedure will be followed by the HR, to place the new assistant with a manager that has expertise in the field that the assistant aspires to enhance his/her skills. This will help reduce the training cost of the company and help the fresher become confident and be integral to the company

Business Workflow Analysis

In Vodafone Company the workflows is to diagram the way that a company works in an easy-to-read format. This chart allows managers to assess the way the company is performing and determine how productive its methods are. Flaws in the process where time or resources are wasted can often be identified quickly in format of a workflow. These issues can then be addressed by preparing a new, more efficient business workflow to demonstrate the changes that need to be made.

Upward feedback

In leadership development and management development, upward feedback (also known as manager feedback and subordinate appraisal) is a structured process of delivering feedback from subordinates to managers, intended to identify ways to increase management effectiveness and enhance organizational performance. 

Supervisory training

This training provides an opportunity to learn about the transition to leadership so that new managers and supervisors can be more successful in their new role. For more experienced managers and supervisors, the training offers an opportunity to reflect on the style they have adopted in performing their duties, and it shows where they can make improvements. This is particularly true for those who have come up through the ranks over the years and now face a very different workforce, workload, and set of community expectations. This training is intended to help you better understand your role and provide strategies to enhance your effectiveness as a leader.

Management Development Theories:

The human relations and human factors approaches were absorbed into a broad behavioural science movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s. This period produced some influential theories on the motivation of human performance. For example, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs provided an individual focus on the reasons why people work. He argued that people satisfied an ascending series of needs from survival, through security to eventual ‘self-actualization’.

In the same period, concepts of job design such as job enrichment and job enlargement were investigated. It was felt that people would give more to an organization if they gained satisfaction from their jobs. Jobs should be designed to be interesting and challenging to gain the commitment of workers – a central theme of HRM.

Scientific Management Theory


At the turn of the century, the most notable organizations were large and industrialized. Often they included on going, routine tasks that manufactured a variety of products. The United States highly prized scientific and technical matters, including careful measurement and specification of activities and results. Management tended to be the same. Frederick Taylor developed the :scientific management theory” which espoused this careful specification and measurement of all organizational tasks. Tasks were standardized as much as possible. Workers were rewarded and punished. This approach appeared to work well for organizations with assembly lines and other mechanistic, routinized activities.

Bureaucratic Management Theory


Max Weber embellished the scientific management theory with his bureaucratic theory. Weber focused on dividing organizations into hierarchies, establishing strong lines of authority and control. He suggested organizations develop comprehensive and detailed standard operating procedures for all routinized tasks.

Human Relations Movement


Eventually, unions and government regulations reacted to the rather dehumanizing effects of these theories. More attention was given to individuals and their unique capabilities in the organization. A major belief included that the organization would prosper if its workers prospered as well. Human Resource departments were added to organizations. The behavioural sciences played a strong role in helping to understand the needs of workers and how the needs of the organization and its workers could be better aligned. Various new theories were spawned, many based on the behavioural sciences (some had name like theory “X”, “Y” and “Z”).

Points to consider

*. What is the value of theory? Specifically, what is the value of a theory that has gone out of fashion? Most theories are not entirely new – they adapt or develop older concepts as a result of perceived inadequacies in the originals. Management thinking is like an incoming tide: each wave comes further up the beach, then retreats, leaving a little behind to be overtaken by the next wave. You can also consider the limitations of common sense and the fact that most problems have been experienced already, in some form, by someone else. We can learn from that wider experience, whereas common sense is essentially individual.


The SECI models help the business to improve the business turnout through traditional strategies such as emotional and regional factors. The Vodafone are employing all these strategies in order to strengthen their roots within those communities through the theses money transfer campaigns and employing people from those countries to introduce the desired factors within Knowledge system. Also thorough the management development schemes, Vodafone are getting the best out of them by educating and empowering them with the modern techniques.

Nonaka, I & Takeuchi, H 1995, The knowledge creating company. How Japanese companies create the dynamics of innovation, Oxford University Press, New York.

Nonaka, I 1991, ‘The Knowledge Creating Company’, Harvard Business Review, (November-December), pp. 96-104.

Nonaka, I, Toyama, R & Konno, N 2001, ‘SECI, Ba and Leadership: a Unified Model of Dynamic Knowledge Creation’, in I Nonaka & DJ Teece (eds.), Managing Industrial Knowledge: Creation, Transfer and Utilization, Sage, London, pp. 1-43. Poppo, L & Zenger, T 1998, ‘Testing alternative theories of the firm: transaction cost, knowledge-based, and measurement explanations for make-or-buy decisions in information services’, Strategic Management Journal, 19 (9), pp. 853-877.

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