Editor’s Note: Payame Noor University, established in 1987, is a long-distance mega university in Iran. Its name means "The message of Light" in Persian. This study has particular significance for organizational management, training and succession, and for organizational changes resulting from retirement or loss of skilled personnel.
Knowledge Management Cycle:
Enthusiasm to upgrade personal knowledge, enjoying monetary benefits for acquiring more knowledge, personal tendency for benefiting learning opportunities, having a system for training employees, personal tendencies towards continuous learning, awareness of company about its best experts in each field, sensitivity towards attracting and preserving knowledge-based employees, the consensus of knowledge- based employees about company's HRM policies, employees' personal investment on learning, the degree of which higher management motivates employee for creating knowledge.
How much you are worry about upgrading your knowledge in the future? To what extent does more knowledge means more monetary benefits in your organization? How much are you personally inclined to benefit from learning opportunities? Is there any systematic trend for training employees? How much do you exploit from learning centers (seminars, conferences) for upgrading your daily learning? How much is continuous learning a priority for you? How much the management does know his best experts in the organization? How much is preserving knowledge-based employees a priority for the higher management? How much does the higher management provide learning opportunities for employees? Reflecting your knowledge in the duties, how much does effect on your receipts? How much are the holders of strategic knowledge satisfied in your organization? How much the benefits of being knowledgeable motivate you to acquire more knowledge? How much more knowledge in your organization does mean just more hard work? How much more benefits resulting from knowledge, motivates you to acquire more knowledge? How mush is preserving knowledge-based employees a priority and systematic in your organization? How much do you invest on your knowledge upgrade? To what extent you are proud of yourself for presenting a scientific article? To what extent you are proud of yourself for translating a scientific article from a foreign language to your mother tongue?
Continuous review of personal experience (employees), the degree of recording personal experience, distinguishing information gaps, personal knowledge organizing, attempt for classifying individual knowledge, the accessibility of people to knowledge resources.
To what extent can you precisely describe what you've learned? How much do you record whatever you have acquired as knowledge? How much do you review your experiences for learning more? To what extent is your received information is incomplete? To what extent is your information accessible to your colleagues? How much are information gaps known at your organization? How much are you obliged to review a thick volume of information to reach your needed knowledge? To what extent do you consider your duty to organize your knowledge? Is there any information system at your company for organizing knowledge? To what extent do you receive your needed information exactly when needed? How much are aware about the knowledge resources at your company?
Management encouragement knowledge sharing, accordance of information systems with right knowledge sharing, strong culture for knowledge sharing, in time announcement to employee about new knowledge sources (on side of librarians), flow knowledge sharing among functional divisions, a powerful internet network, the status of knowledge sharing from top to down(of organization), the status of knowledge sharing from down to top (of organization).
When employees need information, to what extent do they receive it in time? How much does higher management does motivate employees to share knowledge? How much automation system is suitable for knowledge sharing? to what extent is knowledge sharing admired by majority of employees? How much do librarians distribute needed information? To what extent does the continuous flow of knowledge sharing among functional divisions exist? How much the flow of knowledge from top to down (management to employees) is appropriate? How much the flow of knowledge from down to top (employees to management) is appropriate? To what extent needed information about employees is available to him? How much the internet status is appropriate for knowledge sharing? To what extent does the higher management provide the opportunity for others to make use from your created knowledge?
Personal enthusiasm for knowledge application, the degree of personal learning applied from training courses, a strong culture applying knowledge, the existence of systematic processes for using individual knowledge in organization, the degree of knowledge interference in goods and services, employee desire for making activities knowledge- based, management enthusiasm for applying knowledge by employees, benefiting the experiences of projects(on the part of organizations)
How much do you ask yourself, ' how can I apply what I've learned? To what extent are you anxious about putting your knowledge into action? To what extent do you apply what you've learned from training courses? How much there is preference for knowledge application? To what extent are systematic trends applied to organizational knowledge? How much do you reflect your knowledge in your work? To what extent is organizational knowledge and competencies reflected in products and services? To what extent is there a system to apply knowledge? Are employees inclined to make their jobs more knowledge-based? How much does higher management try to apply what has been learned from projects?
The method used in this research is the survey method. It begins with a question about the present status of the knowledge management cycle. In order to answer this question, an exploratory study was performed using various resources. The research theoretical framework is based on Jashapara's model. Then questionnaire which is the main tool of researcher was designed based on theoretical studies, doing a pretest, and final test. The data was analyzed and answers to the research questions presented.
The information gathering method in this research is as below:
§ Library research for specialized books and publications; internet searches (information websites)
to determine other researchers' attitudes, theories, hypotheses and findings.
§ Observations, documents surveys, and interviews with the managers and experts.
§ Questionnaire as the main tool for collecting information
The IMRE employees (office employee with diploma, experts, supervisors, middle and top managers, and faculty members) are the members of statistical population of this research. For this purpose 55 questionnaires were distributed and 48 questionnaires were returned with responses.
In order to determine content reliability of questionnaire and research hypothesis, the questionnaire was delivered to some professors and organizational experts for review. Their views were used for editing and finalizing the questionnaire.
For its validity, 20 copies of the questionnaire were distributed among the members of the population. And then Alpha Kronbakh was computed through SPSS software. As a result it made clear that changing some questions would increase the validity of questionnaire. After that, the validity of questionnaire was confirmed to be 90.6 percent.
The statistical population in this research is from the Institute of Management Research and Education (IMRE). Diversification of tasks, expert employees with higher education degrees (who increased both reliability and validity of the research), commitment and support of higher management and other top managers, and their acquaintance with research activities. IMRE’s role as a pioneer in fields such as customer-orientation, quality, training, technology, and information systems, made the choice of IMRE appropriate for this research. Therefore, the statistical population is IMRE: 70 employees including office employee with diploma, experts, supervisors, middle and top managers, and faculty members.
In order to examine reliability of questionnaire, the alpha Kronbakh test was used. The data analysis method was descriptive analytical, and data analyzed by SPSS software. In order to examine the research hypothesis and for correlation between answers and their personal qualifications, the Chi-square one-way variance test was used. Statistical methods are summarized below:
1- Frequency distribution, percents figures and diagrams for determining the present status of the knowledge management cycle.
2- One way variance and Tuki test for testing the correlation between respondees and their aspects.
3- Correlation coefficient for correlation between loops of the knowledge management cycle.
The greatest frequency concerning education level among respondees was holders of bachelor degrees, that is 43/8%, the least frequency belongs to holders of doctoral degrees, which is 8/3%.
Field of education
20.8% of respondees have been educated in management and 79.2% human and basic sciences.
The greatest frequency is 68.7% for age group 40-20; the least, 4.2%, for the age group 60 and over.
Years of service
The greatest frequency is 31.3% for respondees with 2-5 years of service; the least is 4.2% for those with less than one year of service.
Place of work
The greatest frequency concerning the place of work, belongs to people in the Deputy on Educational Affairs, that is 39.6%.
The frequency of each question examined, the average frequency of questions related to knowledge creating, organizing, sharing and applying, and who chose alternatives ‘much’ and ‘very much’ are reported in Figure 2.
Frequency percent of ‘much’ and ‘very much’ alternatives
The survey data in Figure 2 provides answer to the research questions:
1- What is the present status of knowledge creating loop at IMRE?
41% of respondees chose the alternatives ‘much’ and ‘very much’ to questions concerning the knowledge creating loop.
2- What is the present status of Knowledge organizing at IMRE?
42% of respondees chose the alternatives ‘much’ and ‘very much’ to te questions concerning the knowledge organizing loop.
3- What is the present status of knowledge sharing loop at IMRE?
32% of respondees chose the alternatives ‘much’ and ‘very much’ to questions concerning the knowledge sharing loop.
4- What is the present status of knowledge applying loop at IMRE?
40% of respondees chose the alternatives ‘much’ and ‘very much’ to questions concerning the knowledge applying loop.
In order to examine the relation between personal qualifications of respondees and respond to questions related to creating, organizing, sharing, and applying loops, the Anova test was used.
In the creating the knowledge loop, people with 2-5 years of service had the lowest ‘very much’ response while people with 16 and more years of service had the highest response for the ‘much’ alternative.
In the organizing loop, people with 2-5 years of service had the lowest response for the ‘very much’ alternative. Those with 6-10 and 11-15 years of services were highest for the ‘much’ alternative.
In the sharing loop, there is a meaningful relation between people age and choice of fourth alternative. People with age 51-60 years most often chose the ‘less’ alternative.
In the applying loop, people with 51-60 years age, chose the “less” alternative.
Nonparametric Test of Correlation between Loops
In order to examine the correlation among loops of knowledge management cycle, and response to the fifth question of this research concerning the correlation among loops of the management cycle, a nonparametric test used. Results show that people who believe knowledge creates in a high level, do not believe at the same amount that knowledge is applied. In other words, there is no meaningful correlation between knowledge creating and applying at the 95% confidence level.
The results of this research show that yhe majority of respondees are concerned about upgrading their knowledge in the future. Continuous learning is a priority for them, and they personally desire to pursue available learning opportunities. On the other hand, 64/6% of respondees believe there is very little systematic trend for employee education. And 33% think that management should provides such learning opportunities for its people. Thus, it is suggested to establish a systematic trend for employee training.
To 14.6%, management evaluate much the knowledge upgrade of its employees. 77.1% of respondees would feel proud to write an article or translate one. 21.3% personally send articles to the conferences relating to their specializations. 47.9% believe that management can motivate writing or translating an article. Motivating policies could be devised to increase this percent.
37/6% of respondees, believe more knowledge means possessing more monetary benefits, to 23% holders of strategic knowledge are much satisfied at IMRE. To 8/8% of respondees, benefits of possessing knowledge motivate them much to acquire knowledge. 70% of respondees believe that more knowledge means more labour very much at IMRE. So modifying payment system and making it knowledge based would help.
43/8% believe management is sensitive in preserving its knowledge based employees and to 18/8% of them, preserving knowledge based employees is much systematic: it suggested here to the management to adopt proper policies in this respect.
37/5% of respondees think they organize what they've learned much and very much. It is here suggested to concern a shared file in the intranet which guide people to organize their knowledge in them
77/11%desire much to organize personally their knowledge, while 16/7% believe there is much an information system for knowledge organizing. Concerning related soft wares for this purpose is problem solving.
To 14/6% of respodees, knowledge sharing is much desired by majority. Improving the culture of knowledge sharing here is recommended.
14/6% believe that sharing knowledge is much flown among functional divisions. So it is recommended to reengineer and rethink about work processes and procedures.
37/1% think that management encourages much employees for knowledge sharing and 10/4% believe knowledge sharing is actively rewarded all over the organizations borders. So here it is recommended to motivating systems to be desined.
According to 12/5% of respondees, librarians distribute necessary information on time. In this respect making them aware of their critical role in knowledge sharing could be useful.
To 14/6% of respodees, enthusiasm towards knowledge appliance exists much, and to 14/6%, IMRE has systematic processes for expoiting knpwledge. In this respect, IMRE can receive from employees themselves useful suggestions on making knowledge applicable. Furthermore, designing systematic processes for knowledge Appliances would be useful.
14/6% of respondees believe that after participating in educational courses, managemet worry much about its appliance by them. Policymaking for motivating people for applying what they've learned is essential.
To 10% of them, IMRE act for exploring knowledge gained through performed projects. It is recommended here to assign the duty of transferring this knowledge to the needed audiences in order to establish connection between projects results and applying them.
In spite of the fact that attaining a knowledge-based organization in which all its four loops are managed efficiently is difficult, it is not impossible.
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Hassan Darvish, Ph.D. is Associate Professor at Payam Noor University, Iran.
Saeed Kharaghani, Ph.D. is Associate Professor at Abbaspur University, Iran.
Minoo Selseleh is a Ph.D student at Payam Noor University, Iran.