A multi-methodological examination of Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) in business contexts
Nelson, Karen (2004) A multi-methodological examination of Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) in business contexts. .
Many different approaches have been proposed with the aim of facilitating sound and successful information management (IM) and knowledge management (KM) practices within business contexts. These approaches seek to identify organizational factors (e.g. culture or information technology practices) or to suggest management processes (e.g. human resources management) required to establish environments conducive to IM and KM. Most of these approaches, often presented as frameworks (as they are referred to in this study) for organizational IM or KM, are exemplified by the following features.Firstly, they have emerged as unrelated notions, with little reference to each other or to foundational studies in the area. Secondly these frameworks are not based on any
theoretical foundation. Thirdly, these frameworks have tended to focus on either
information or knowledge management activities but not both, even though organizational IM and KM exist in a complementary and co-dependent relationship.
The usefulness of these frameworks is made problematic by muddled use of the terms
'information', 'knowledge', 'IM' and 'KM', which are often transposed or used synonymously. The situation is further complicated by the inherent complexity of the organizational environments into which practitioners attempt to introduce information and knowledge management (IKM) initiatives.
Early outputs of this research are explanations of how the terminology above is used in
this study and a literature review that describes current IM and KM frameworks by
analyzing their components. The literature review identifies current challenges in the
research domain, including the need for sound foundation (referent model) on which future IKM frameworks can be based. A suitable referent model is proposed by integrating single and double feedback loops (from systems theory) with two concepts from the IM literature: IM processes and the domains of IM activity.
Then, an interpretive multi-methodological research (MMR) approach is pursued consisting of three sequential phases: action research, transition and case study. The first phase, a 3-cycle action research project accompanied by a longitudinal descriptive case study and an embedded literature analysis, was conducted over a 31 month period. The key research outcome of the action research phase was a set of candidate enablers Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) in Business Contexts for organizational IKM, while the organizational deliverables included policies, strategies, process improvement and new information systems. The information gathered in phase one was rich and deep. However, in keeping with the goal of the research to produce a practical, useful IKM framework, the researcher sought a broader view from the IKM community. To achieve this practitioner view, a second research phase was designed to bridge the gap between the detailed examinations of IKM initiatives within one
organizational environment, to the examination of IKM initiatives within other organizations. Therefore phase two - a transition phase - consisted of a series of surveys and interviews with IKM practitioners that explored their perceptions of organizational IKM activities and environments. The data collected in phase two
supported the findings from phase one and informed the development of the case protocols for the third - case study - phase. In the third phase, six IKM projects in three organizations were studied. Documentary and interview data were examined to understand the relationships between IKM projects, the candidate enablers identified earlier in phases one and two, and other organizational factors implicated in IKM
initiatives. When analyzed, the findings from the third phase converged with the data
collected in the previous two phases, and provided a rich, deep and broad collection of
The study culminates by synthesizing the data collected in the three research phases to
(1) confirm a suitable referent model on which IKM frameworks can be based and (2) develop an integrated, multidimensional IKM framework that assimilates the referent model. The referent model, which is based on previous calls for IKM frameworks to have a sound theoretical foundation, incorporates two established concepts from the IKM literature: (a) the operational, analytical and strategic domains of IKM activity and (b) double and single loop feedback loops of systems thinking applied to IKM processes. The practical and flexible IKM framework, which assimilates these concepts, has three dimensions. These dimensions are (i) domains of IKM activity and feedback loops (ii)
organizational enablers (iii) project context. It is envisaged that this framework be used
by practitioners to identify and manage areas of the business environment that require
attention to ensure success of IKM projects or initiatives.
Impact and interest:
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|Item Type:||QUT Thesis (PhD)|
|Supervisor:||Middleton, Michael, Gable, Guy, & Rosemann, Michael|
|Keywords:||Information management (IM), information resources management (IRM), knowledge management (KM), information and knowledge management (IKM), interpretive research, multi-methodology research (MMR), referent model, IKM frameworks|
|Divisions:||Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology|
|Department:||Faculty of Information Technology|
|Institution:||Queensland University of Technology|
|Copyright Owner:||Copyright Karen Nelson|
|Deposited On:||03 Dec 2008 13:53|
|Last Modified:||29 Oct 2011 05:40|
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