Knowledge Management in Organizations

Organizational epistemology cognitively views organizational knowledge as an involuntary process where individuals are usually exposed to the knowledge that is in the environment. The senses that are common to most individuals pick the information from the environment and sort it out to build mental models of the surrounding objects. On the other hand, a connectionist approach suggests that the brain is not able to sort out this information as it perceives the wholeness of whatever the senses pick up (Nonaka, 2005). This approach also suggests that information is also generated internally and acquired from the environment. This paper seeks to explain the process and the reason organizations acquire knowledge as social organizations, and what can be considered such knowledge, as well as the impediments that are found in organizational Knowledge Management.

HSBC is a multinational bank based in London, and it has been around for over a century. In the past, HSBC has been known to adopt knowledge management programs such as knowledge audits as well as knowledge-capture projects. This was in their quest to utilize the knowledge of their old and experienced employees who were considered wise and had a broad knowledge of operations especially in the banking sector (Eliss, 2003). It has had some challenges in knowledge management in recent times, for instance, in the year 2002 they came up with a unit mandated with promoting their newly established strategy on knowledge management. This was, however, dropped a year later and they then adopted a less centralized program.

We must realize that knowledge management should enjoy a symbiotic relationship with flexible working for there to be efficiency in the utilization of the companies’ resources. In this respect, HSBC has implemented some flexible-working programs in its knowledge management strategy. This has been backed by extensive research that is meant to avert the same predicament that had befallen them in 2002. In the research done, they realized that there was low employee satisfaction, where only about 44 percent of the staff in one of their offices in the UK, said they were unsatisfied with their working environment. The same employees said that their desk utilization was about 57 percent. The implementation of the new flexible-working programs has brought with it greater efficiency, as they now have 85 flexible jobs from a previous 65 work stations per floor. This has increased office and meeting space which has then led to more employee satisfaction.

Their adoption of this program where knowledge management has been merged with flexible-working has also come with its challenges (Miller, 2007). The first is the obvious management of these flexible employees since there was no previous provision on them. The company has had to struggle with ensuring that they still maintain or even improve the levels of output for these employees. To improve on the output they have had to ensure that employees maintain their consistency, as well as still observe the company values and beliefs. They have also had to review their reward systems to include provisions for knowledge sharing and knowledge creation. This has come with some resistance from conservative managers who are used to demanding conformity and control, but they have had to change as they have been stuck with sub-optimal recruits.

It has come at an extra cost as the company has had to set up an improved IT department that deals with the increased demand for services as employees work from different locations. This has also meant that security for their systems has to be increased due to the different locations that it has to be accessed from. Their knowledge management model is tailored around the desired situation, where: key knowledge gets to employees fast; there are no time or space boundaries at work; there is high employee engagement; there is a positive work-life balance and there is the observance of environmental concerns (Rollett, 2003).

SAB Miller is the world’s second-largest brewer. Some years back, it adopted a knowledge management strategy that would help in its quest to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors in all six continents that it operates in (Eck, 2004). Their knowledge management strategy is geared towards improving their manufacturing systems; enhancing their products and services that they provide their customers; ensuring efficiency in utilization of resources; encouraging innovation and finally supporting their values and company objectives (Erasmus, 2009).

The company has an integrated business process that incorporates technology, people, and processes. This has been in their quest to gain knowledge management synergy, and they started by knowledge sharing through a shared learning process. To support their knowledge sharing concept they encouraged workers to come up with innovations that improve and support their daily operations. All lessons identified as potential shared-learning subjects are captured in a template for them to identify the problem posed or the opportunity that may be available (Christensen, 2003). This is also meant to provide and share information on possible ways of overcoming any challenge posed as well as benefits that may be realized.

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