Introduction Of Knowledge Management And Organisational Learning Management Essay

The aim of this paper is to provide an understanding on Knowledge Management (KM) and Organisational Learning and how both of them improve Human Resource Management (HRM) in relation to training and development and also recruitment and selection.

Introduction of knowledge management (KM) and organisational learning (OL)

Rapid changes in world economy and the emergence in IT have changed the way people do business. One of the drastic changes is the shift from physical capital view of competitive advantage to a knowledge-based competitive advantage through knowledge management (KM) (Robert and Jackson 2007). As quoted from Robinson (2010, p124) “knowledge management is the discipline of creating a thriving work and learning environment that fosters the continuous creation, aggregation, use and re-use of both organisational and personal knowledge in the pursuit of new business value”.

To outperform rival, organisations must learn how to adapt to and take advantage of environmental opportunities. The concept of the learning organisation is an important part of managing knowledge. According to OECD (2004), improving competitive advantage was cited as the most crucial reason for the utilization of KM practices while Cortade and Woods (2000) also mentioned that organisations become conscious that competitive advantages derive from organisational learning.

Organisational learning is the process of improving actions through better knowledge and understanding (Leithwood, Aitken and Jantzi 2006) which requires the integration of new and existing knowledge (Borzillo 2006). Knowledge management is the way an organisation identifies and leverages knowledge which is concern with getting the right knowledge to the right people at the right time in with it can be shared and put into action (Robert and Jackson 2007). As Goldsmith, Morgan and Ogg (2004) stressed that, organisation only truly unique competitive advantage is the knowledge that built up over the history of the organisation and that exists at a point in time across its geography. It is the life of an organisation. Therefore, it is vital for an organisation to create knowledge on an ongoing basis and link working and learning together in order to sustain in the competitive market.

How KM and OL can improve HRM, competitive advantages and intellectual capital

Human resources management (HRM) refers to a set of programmes, functions and activities intended to maximise both employee and enhance organisational effectiveness (Aswathappa 2005). Aswathappa (2005) pointed out that developing employee skills, motivating them to better performance and retaining their commitment toward the organisation is indispensable to the accomplishment of organisational goal. Human resources management views knowledge management as a human capital issue, and is concerned with how to provide the skills for employees to learn and share their learning (Blattberg, Byung-Do and Neslin 2008).

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Human resources management effectiveness can be enhanced through the practices of knowledge management. The most effective result was the improvement in worker skills and knowledge while the second most effective result was increment in employee efficiency and productivity (OECD 2004). These outcomes show that knowledge sharing, creation and maintenance are perceived as imperative to organisation productivity.

Besides that, knowledge management practices also improve human resources management by creating an effective client- oriented firm. According to OECD (2004), majority of organisation indicated that knowledge management practices had enhanced the bond between customers and increase adaption of services or products to customer’s expectation and requirement.

Through the execution of knowledge management practices, human resources management can provide competitive advantages by improving employee skills and expertises of related area. One of the practices is to encourage replication of tacit knowledge within an organisation without allowing it to replicate outside (Price 2007). According to Nonaka, Toyama and Byosiere (2000), there are two types of knowledge which is tacit and explicit. Tacit knowledge is deeply rooted in action, procedures, ideals and values while explicit knowledge can be expressed in formal and systematic language. Price (2007) further evaluate by giving an example on how tacit knowledge can be stored and accessed; which is offer opportunities for face-to-face interactions and electronic communication, for example set up chat facilities and encourage learning groups.

Martin (2006) indicated that intellectual capital encompass human capital, structural capital and relational capital. He also suggested some knowledge management strategies that can be used to enhance creation of intellectual capital. For example forming cross-functional work teams; establishing enabling conditions for knowledge creation through appropriate human resource management practices; replicating organisational routines across different parts of an organisation; designing decision support systems; and measuring and evaluating an organisation’s intellectual assets (Martin 2006).

Training and Development

The most apparent link between knowledge management and human resource management is in the field of training and development (Kazi 2005). Training and development activities are carried out within a favorable environment for learning designed to improve the employee learning competency (Taylor, Doherty and McGraw 2008). In organisation context, training is form of knowledge-sharing process also a key human resource development mechanism (Kazi 2005). Human resource development is a process of developing employee proficiency through personnel training (Gottschalk 2007).

In the past, organizations offer training to employees to enhance job performance (Adelsberger, Collins and Pawlowski 2002). Organizational learning theory suggests that this is inadequate; shared knowledge and experience should put into attention (Adelsberger, Collins and Pawlowski 2002). In an ever-changing environment, employees’ competencies need to be updated on an ongoing basis. Training and development program helps in ensuring that employees have the most update, explicit knowledge in their respective areas of specialization (Matlay 2005). The comprehensive mechanism of how an organization learns has come to be called knowledge management. Knowledge management involves generating new knowledge, for example through training and development activities or by selecting employees who have desired knowledge and skills. Those activities help to ensure that employees have the most up-to-date knowledge in their fields and can help to facilitate organizational learning (NRC 2005).

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In 1998, Nonaka, Konno and Toyama have proposed SECI multi-layered model of knowledge creation to give a whole picture of how organizational create knowledge dynamically. They further stated that, the three layers of knowledge creation must be interact with each other in order to form a knowledge spiral and creates knowledge. The first layer is the knowledge creation through socialization which is the process of bringing tacit knowledge together through shared experiences. Second layer is ba, which is a platform for knowledge creation. Knowledge needs a context in order to exist. Last layer are knowledge assets (input), output and moderator of the knowledge creation process.

There are several approaches of training and development activities that supporting knowledge creation through sharing. First of all, establish a continuous professional development program which facilitates constant learning through knowledge sharing (Kazi 2005). Secondly, set up facility for knowledge worker that allowed face-to-face interactions (Kazi 2005). This formalizes knowledge exchange activities as a defined element of their employees’ role within the organization. Thirdly, actively seek to learn lessons from its experience (Kazi 2005). Following each project, organization should attempt to identify problem occurred and then proposed a solution that can be done to improve future performance (Kazi 2005).

Bonner (2000) stated that employees are required to possess requisite skills through training prior to job performance. They also necessary to have appropriate knowledge support as they perform their tasks, and then they need to be able to reflect on lessons learned both to enhance their own individual learning and to contribute insights to organisational learning. This newly obtained knowledge capital is then applied as they and their colleagues continue to learn and perform. The knowledge management tools used in training should be the same ones used in the workplace. This cycle leads to continuous performance improvement that is conveyed through learning and knowledge support to achieve continuous business improvement (Bonner 2000).

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Here is an example taken from a book written by Bonner (2000) where Andersen Consulting Education (ACE) utilizes knowledge management to enhance their training and development process. ACE provided a computer-based training program on how to use the knowledge management system. This program offered many classroom-based courses which comprised of modules on effective use of the knowledge management system. The general workshop in the class is case based and involves the use of Knowledge Xchange system to assist in problem solving by the participants. This utilization exposed to the participants of the value of using knowledge management and reinforces culture of knowledge sharing.

Conclusion

Organisations are increasingly focusing on the concept of organisational learning to increase their competitive advantage, innovation and effectiveness. Organisational learning is accelerated when organisation creates a common knowledge repository, identifies through knowledge management and codifies competencies and routines, including acquiring, storing, interpreting, and manipulating information from within and external to the organisation (Holsapple 2004). Both knowledge management and organisational learning use knowledge generation and knowledge sharing as foundation elements. To be successful, these capabilities require a high level of attention to human factors: roles and responsibilities, experience, motivation, self-image, respect and trust, honesty and integrity and the quality of interpersonal relationships throughout the firm (Holsapple 2004).

Learning leads to the development of new knowledge and / or processes. Knowledge leads to innovation and creativity. Innovation and creativity will ultimately lead to the development of new products, services or ideas which can lead to profitability for the organization. But true competitive advantage and organizational success lies on the ability to be ahead of competition. Technical capability can be copied by competition, infrastructures can be purchased by competition, new products can be easy to duplicate by competition, marketing tactics or strategies can be copied by competition. The only patented competitive advantage is the ability of an organization to continuously innovate, being more efficient at its processes and the generation of new ideas [continuously learning and leaning to learn]. Organization must generate its own best practices, people in the organization at all levels must work together, using their individual and organizational knowledge to the fullest capacity, this is the only true competitive advantage as this cannot be duplicated by competition.

As we currently live in a knowledge driving world, organization survival and continuous existence in highly dependent on the amount of knowledge it can convert into commercial value in the form of continuous new product development and always being ahead of competition at all times.

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