Table of Contents
2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
4. LITERATURE REVIEW
4.1 Subject Background
4.2 Project Planning
4.3 Contextual Knowledge
4.4 Impact on Project Planning
4.5 Knowledge Capture
4.6 External and Tacit knowledge
4.7 Organization Culture and Rewards
5. DATA AND METHODS
6. ANALYSIS AND RESULT
6.1 Project planning
6.2 Knowledge Capture
6.4 Organization Culture
6.5 Senior Management
6.6 Knowledge sharing
6.7 Performance management
6.8 External knowledge
6.10 Knowledge Marketing
6.11 Knowledge Compartmentalization
6.12 Project monitoring and control
6.13 Organization processes
7. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
7.2 Practical Implications
7.3 Theoretical implications
7.4 Future Research
I would like to thank my University professor Mr Colin Price for continual guidance and providing feedback to the research proceedings starting from decision on the subject till the completion of the research. I would like to thank Practical action(Kenya) and especially Mr. Francis Muchiri from Practical action for allowing me to conduct interviews in Practical action (Kenya). I would also like to extend by gratitude towards all the interview candidates for sharing their opinion freely without any bias. Finally to my family members who have been considerate and supportive to allow me work on the research peacefully.
2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Knowledge capture and sharing components of Knowledge management are studied under this research in the context of Practical action ( Kenya) (which is a NGO in development sector) to see if there is any impact on project planning. We have used grounded theory to derive this relationship. Author has experienced a conflicting identity of the knowledge management. Many individuals and organizations talk and plan much more than act on knowledge management. This research has tried to find if there are any links between knowledge management and project management by studying its sub-categories in order to gain improve the significance of knowledge capture and sharing .
Following ‘introduction’ will give the background for the research subject, ‘literature review’ will give the theoretical background and framework for the research, ‘data and methods’ will explain the data and research method used, ‘analysis and result’ chapter has studied the codes found during the study of the transcripts and finally ‘discussion and conclusion’ will elaborate the implications and limitations of the research.
The objective of the research is to find if there is any impact of knowledge capture and sharing on the project planning at Practical Action(Kenya). Knowledge capture and sharing are two important components of knowledge management. Knowledge management has many definitions and some of these are listed in the appendix. Knowledge capture is one of the elements of knowledge management where the knowledge from the organization or from outside the organization is encapsulated in processes, tools or within the organizational resources to make it available to the rest of the organization. The knowledge sharing can happen when knowledge is captured successfully. Knowledge sharing is used to make sure that encapsulated knowledge is made available, shared, circulated or dispersed to be available at the right time to the right people. However, the attention deserved by knowledge capture and sharing in the development organizations is quite less. There are multiple reasons for this phenomenon. The one of the prominent reason is that ‘knowledge’ is not visible. Its intangible, it cannot be directly observed therefore, many organizations do not accept the importance of knowledge easily. The research subject has originated from the fact that knowledge capture and sharing has strong theoretical presence however, practical implications of it and swiftness in organizational decisions making regarding knowledge management lack noticeably. Project management is more adapted science. Whereas, knowledge management is more spoken, written than practiced. Therefore, in the author’s view it will be useful to find a relationship of knowledge management with established discipline such as project management. Project management is undoubtedly backed by the literature and most importantly accomplished in the actual project implementations all over the world. However, both the sciences are vast, and one thesis will not justify the inter-relation between the two streams. Therefore, to have a definite focus to study this research is trying to find if there is any impact of knowledge capture and sharing on project planning (at Practical action, Kenya).
Practical action executes development projects. These are more complex and unpredictable at times as the actual executors of the projects are changing. For example, a project of ‘water irrigation’ will be consulted by the Practical Action consultant although is actually executed by the local farmer. Risks, situations, contexts, physical locations of the projects are changing drastically. On the other hand, there are lots of expectations from the communities and donors when the projects are initiated. The stakeholders of the development projects are many including the direct beneficiaries, donors, government, project implementing parties, partners etc. There are many such challenges and huge knowledge base for the development projects in Practical action. Therefore, Practical action is an appropriate case study for this research to find if knowledge capture and sharing have made any difference in project planning.
This research is a minor step towards findings the relationship between these two crucial components of project management and knowledge management. The subject is engrossing and is important in author’s view because of the significance it may bring to the stream of knowledge management to get more noticed in the development organizations or otherwise.
The study is a guided research on the above topic and attempts to answer following questions:-
1) To find if there is any impact of knowledge capture and it is sharing on the project planning at Practical action (Kenya).
2) If direct relationship exists, then what impact knowledge capture and its sharing may have on the project planning. Identifying the factors of knowledge capture and sharing at Practical Action that will have a significant impact on project planning aspects, time and cost at Practical Action.
3) What are the limitations of research and the prospects of further research (If any).
As mentioned the study involves a case of a development organization called ‘Practical action’. It is a UK based development organization and an international development agency. Its work is spanned across Bangaladesh, East Africa, Latin America, Nepal, South Asia, Southern Africa and Sudan. There are multiple projects getting executed by Practical action across the world. However, in this study, we would be mainly collecting data from the Kenya office and will be representing a part of the East Africa section mainly Kenya branch. To quite some extend the outcome can be applied to any cluster of practical action or other development organizations however, it cannot be guaranteed. Practical action mainly works in the area of ‘reducing the poverty’ by using technology and its main areas are water and sanitation, energy, climate change, waste management, infrastructure, urban poverty, food and agriculture and disaster risk reduction (what-we-do,2007) of the main purposes of the organization is to spread knowledge of technology and its usage for livelihood generation, capacity building, improving access to the information / knowledge to help community execute the projects which finally result into poverty reduction and healthier lifestyle. Practical action has been in existence since half a century. Hence the knowledge acquired by the organization is immense, and the organization helps and distributes this knowledge through the Practical Answers Unit which responds to more than 10000 enquires made by the public/organizations regarding the appropriate knowledge/information every year. Practical Action also has a ‘Practical action consulting Unit’ ( PAC ) which provide consulting services to the partners, governments, NGOs which, are working in line with the organizational vision which is also based on the experience and knowledge of the organization.
Therefore, it can be said ‘knowledge’ is a crucial component for all the organizational functions of Practical action and it can be addressed as a ‘knowledge-based organization’. Practical action has reasonable awareness of the knowledge management among the staff members and also has a full-fledged department to handle knowledge management (called Communication unit ) and is actively supporting the work of projects throughout all the project phases. The nature of most of the projects in PA is similar although because of the distinct locations, setup and initial conditions it could become totally different. The examples of such factors are weather, local conflicts, ethnicities, partners, community openness and support, urge to sustain, capacity to sustain, etc. Therefore, while planning future projects it’s equally important to understand these factors along with the domain understanding of the project. Communication unit is responsible to gather and disseminate the knowledge throughout the project lifecycle. This department in Kenya has the knowledge in terms of hard copies of the documents, soft copies of documents that include the best practices, compiled learning etc in the Share point software. This is accessible to all the staff in the world. As studied, the sheer quantity of the knowledge the organization is handling and the way it is using (or not using) may have a certain impact on the project planning in the author’s view. This is analyzed in the following research.
Even after putting forward multiple testimonies of effectiveness from knowledge management most of the development organizations do not have any mechanisms to encourage or share knowledge within the organization (Mazzie, 2000).It is found that there exists a paradox in theory and practice for knowledge capture and sharing. It signifies that, the step towards the ‘actual action’ on the knowledge management is delayed in most of the cases. Some of the research does talk about the usage of knowledge management specifically mentions the underutilization of the subject. Therefore, in the author’s view, knowledge management needs further research to support ‘why it is an underutilized stream?’. This research subject is initiated from similar thoughts. The critical factor of knowledge infrastructure in any project management is it is processes. It explains where the knowledge is getting generated, how the tasks are getting executed, how it is getting disseminated, how the past project knowledge is captured and used. There is a lot more said in knowledge management on ‘how’ and ‘what’ but there needs to have more elaboration on ‘why’ ( knowledge capture and sharing ), even though it seems to go back to the basics. It is necessary to ponder on it again to get the due credit, resources and attention for implementation of knowledge capture and sharing. We will be researching on one each aspect of project management and knowledge management. These factors include knowledge capture and sharing (from Knowledge Management ) and project planning ( from project management ). In ordinary language author wants to use the crutches of the established science stream ( Project Management ) to get a certain credit for the kind of underestimated science practice, knowledge capture and sharing by trying to find the links between them.
The data is collected in the form of interviews, documents and it is analyzed using the grounded theory research to find the relationship between the two parameters. Although a certain amount of literature is studied before the data analysis the detail literature review is done after the data analysis as per the guidelines of the grounded theory.
4. LITERATURE REVIEW
The literature review section is a second chapter according to the guidelines of the research however, as per the grounded theory we have not performed the preliminary literature review before data analysis and detail literature review after the Data analysis phase.
4.1 Subject Background
“Knowledge management refers to the developing body of methods, tools, techniques, and values through which, organizations can acquire, develop, measure, distribute, and provide a return on their intellectual assets” (van Donk and Riezebos 2005, p45). It is a systematic approach where skills, leanings are used successfully for achieving the competitive advantage (Arkell, 2007). As mentioned by Zhang the objective of knowledge management is to develop and impact the collective knowledge in the organization to add value to have competitive advantage (Zhang, 2007). Knowledge capture and sharing are sub-streams of knowledge management. Knowledge capture is “the process of extracting, structuring and organizing knowledge from several knowledge sources, usually human experts, so that the problem solving expertise can be captured and transformed into a computer readable form” ( Liou 1998, p.102). Literature has quite a number of advantages of usage of knowledge management systems (Alavi and Leidner, 1999). However, Knowledge capture and sharing is still not taken seriously in most of the development organizations. Ruggles (1998) result on 431 US and European organizations with knowledge management initiatives and shows that only 13 percent of the respondents expressed they are able to successfully sharing the knowledge. As per author’s experience the discussions on knowledge management are enormous, full of interests shown by management and employees however, decision making and implementation in the stream lacks considerably. Even after putting forward multiple testimonies of effectiveness from knowledge management most of the development organizations do not have any mechanisms to encourage or share knowledge within the organization (Mazzie, 2000). Its said that ‘knowledge’ is invisible because it does not have well accepted definition and measuring standard (Sveiby, 1997). Therefore more attention is given to visible assets such as financial and capital assets (Sveiby, 1997) .This could be another point which, may be resulting into the delay in taking concrete steps towards Knowledge capture and sharing in many development organizations. In general, the usage of knowledge and effectiveness is a quest to answer for development organizations. Factors which affect the spread and sustained practice of knowledge management is the subject that is not well investigated in the literature (Gray, 2000; Cortada and Woods, 1999, 2000; Alavi and Leidner, 1999). Our subject is targeting to address this issue however, for a specific development organization, Practical action.
The project driven environment such as Practical action continuously produces knowledge that includes technical, organizational and procedural knowledge (Kasvi, Vartiainen and Hailikari, 2003). The nature of the development projects is such that different variety of knowledge is getting produced on regular basis. Practical action is a project oriented organization. It develops innovative products which can be used in the field to help the poor communities. Nicholas (2001:22) has described a project as a temporary activity which is executed by a ‘multi-disciplinary’ group of people working for a single specific target. The knowledge management at Practical action is given significant attention because Practical Action believes power is not achieved without knowledge (Foucault, 1977). Therefore, Practical action is one of the dominating organizations among the organizations working in the same domain and subject area. The 40 year experience of Practical action in the development projects is preserved using knowledge management practices. Many organizations in development sector do not understand the criticality of the knowledge capture and sharing. As Stewart (1995) mentioned the organizations need to concentrate on what they know rather than on what they own. This suggest knowledge has the power if its preserved and used at right times. The initial phase of the project where the knowledge can be used is the project planning phase of the projects. Project planning phase is the first phase and starting point for most of the projects in Practical action after project initiation. In project management project planning is considered a crucial factor for project success (Cooper and Kleinschmidt, 1995; Zwikael, Shimizu, and Globerson, 2005; Fortune and White, 2006). Project management has 9 working areas as per PMBOK which are Integration management, scope management, time management, cost management, quality management, procurement management risk management, communications management, human resource management adapted from Project Management Institute (PA,USA). All above areas have the planning phase however, for this research we are considering only two management areas of planning that is time and cost. In authors view it is vital to understand the small links that may exist between the two sciences and this research subject is trying study one minor link between the two streams.
4.2 Project Planning
Project management is a typical way to manage business activities (Filippov and Mooi, 2010) and as said “Project management, including the tools, techniques, and knowledge-based practices applied to manage the creation of products and services, is becoming an increasingly accepted and applied discipline across industry sectors” (Jugdev et al., 2007). The work of any project is managed mainly by planning, executing, monitoring and controlling processes (Guide, 2004). In Practical action project planning is a crucial aspect of the project management. In project management, project planning is a critical factor for the project success (Cooper and Kleinschmidt, 1995; Fortune and White, 2006) therefore, this phase needs to be given due importance in all the projects and development projects are no different to it. Mental simulation for the upcoming activities or tasks for reaching the goal is termed as planning (Mumford, Schultz and Osburn, 2002). The effective project planning ensures the right focus during the execution, prioritization of tasks, allocation of resources, timelines and milestones are set, risks are planned and mitigated and ensures the end product meets the expectations and provide measures of success (James Kiser and Lawrence Winder, 2002). Hence planning is the first and critical step in every small or big project. Although, the nature of the development project is different, the projects from this sector are about bringing transformations and benefit to the people. (Overseas Development Assistance (ODA)U.K., 1995) however, the basic characteristics of the project execution are similar hence the project management principles remain the same for development projects in Practical action as well. Considerable time and resources spent on planning has indicated maximizing project performance therefore, planning should include appropriate allocation of resources (Faniran et al. 1999). Practical action is also working on the similar goals to invest resources on knowledge capture and sharing activities as gathered from the interview data. It came out from that current resource investment can be improved to have better impact of the organizational knowledge on the planning phase of the Practical action projects.
As said project planning happens during the construction phase and also throughout the project. Planning performed during the beginning of the project has major impact on the project (Cohenca-Zall et al. 1994-). If the planning is performed with the right view and understanding then it becomes more effective. In fact, the project planning is although more essential for the complex and diverse projects such as development projects in Practical action where the variable parameters are many in the actual field of execution. These parameters are local environment, weather, political, legal, different participations, ethnic, economical etc. It is essential to know the factors which may impact the project planning. Because of these factors of Practical action, conceptual knowledge can never be static because there are multiple variables mentioned above are constantly affecting it.
4.3 Contextual Knowledge
Therefore contextual knowledge needs to be incorporated during the planning stage itself. This point was supported by a professor in his paper saying the local tacit knowledge blending with contextual knowledge of the problem is required before the solutions are proposed (Batra, 2007). This can be very effective for project planning if done properly. It implies the importance of clubbing ‘contextual knowledge’ during the planning stage of the project. According to Batra the pure scientific knowledge without adaptation of the local conditions may not have right impact, in other words can waste resources and time of the projects. As supported earlier the learning from past projects has become all the more crucial for development projects to achieve the sustainability and how the organizations can learn quickly from the past project knowledge (Fenreira and Neto, 2005). This point is perfectly applicable to Practical action. Lyttinenand Robey (1998) suggested lot of developments do not success because organizations do not learn from previous understanding of the developments. Practical action certainly do not fall under this category as mentioned earlier there exists the knowledge capture and sharing arm however, it needs to be strengthen. Practical action deals with international projects therefore, winning the funding for the projects from international funding agencies needs to have certain competitive advantage while designing and proposing the projects. To have this competitive success internationally, it is essential to embed the usage of knowledge in the projects and creativity and skills (Nonaka and Takeuchi 1995). The creativity and skills have impact of knowledge too. As much knowledge is exposed, the horizons of creativity are expanded and skills are leveraged.
In authors view, when theoretical presence for knowledge capture and sharing is stronger than its practical relevance then it needs more crutches in the form of the relationships to the practically accomplished science such as project management because “Project management is becoming a key strategy for managing organizational change in contemporary organizations, with corporations, government, academia and other organizations recognizing the value of common project approaches and of educated employees for the execution of projects” (Rooij, 2009). Therefore, the research has tried to find the traces of links between knowledge capture and sharing with project planning are two crucial components of respective sciences. Although both project management and knowledge management are vast subjects, have multiple braches and aspects to each therefore, in authors view, one research is not enough to find the intricacies between the two subject streams. One needs to find the relationships between each of these parameters to get deeper understanding of the link that may exist between the two faculties. One of the researchers has found the link of knowledge management and project management is mainly applicable to the projects which, has more knowledge intensive activities (Peppard, 2007). Practical action is also a knowledge intensive organization as described earlier. Most of the solutions and executions of Practical action in the rural areas need vast knowledge of the project parameters. Similarly, according to Sankarasubramanian (2009), all the projects have one point in common that is ‘knowledge’. Therefore, managing the knowledge for project found to be related to the project success. As pointed out if there is no proper project knowledge management it can become a cause for project failure (Desouza and Evaristo, 2004). This signifies the link that exists between the knowledge and outcome of the project. The impact of the ‘knowledge’ might be different on different phases of the projects however, we have tried to study project planning phase.
However, there is no trace of exactly same research subject but there have been some studies in the literature which has depicted a relationship between knowledge management and project management (McElroy, 2000). Similar studies were carried on the public sector projects. It mentioned that knowledge guides the aspects of organizational and technical knowledge that the project manager needs to utilize to support the planning process (Carlos F. et al., 2012).
4.4 Impact on Project Planning
Both knowledge capture, sharing and project planning are vital for completive advantage. Traditionally economy counted on the evident assets such as land or capital whereas current economy recognizes ‘knowledge’ as the main asset on which, the competitive advantage depends (Beijerse ,1999). The competitive advantage can be achieved by unique knowledge of the organization as one of the strategic resources (Grant, 1996; Itami and Roehl, 1987). Knowledge management is generally regarded as a vital factor in developing competitive advantage and profits of any organization (Winter, 1987; Teece and Pisano, 1994; Grant, 1996; Nelson, 1996; Geroski and Mazzucato, 2002; and Nickerson et al., 2007). The project planning phase of the project also strives to achieve and built in the project design for the competitive advantage and high performance of the project. The competitive advantage in terms of Practical action comes from the finer knowledge of the executed projects and the parameters involved in the success and the failure of those projects as discussed in the analysis section. Project planning is the preparation for the pledge of resources, and it is co-ordination between the human activities such that an organizational goal is met considering the constraints of resources (Moder, Phillips and Davis, 1983). Hence, if the organizational knowledge is not fed back to the ‘project planning’, the knowledge may vanish or will remain for years in the repositories, documents or with the staff. It may be only referred at times during certain phases of the projects but not through enough contemplation. Currently PA uses the captured knowledge to a certain extent for planning, control and to enhance the performance of the project. This relationship is clearly depicted and established in the interview data analysis. This link is also established by Durbin and Wheeler saying that project performance can be enhanced by shared best practices, adequate and immediate information sharing (Durbin and Wheeler, 2002). The project performance parameters also include the project deadlines and the cost of the project. Cost and time components are related in Practical action as the resources used for certain period impact the schedule and also the budget of the project. This was supported by suggesting capitalizing on the knowledge have shown considerable cost savings (O'Dell and Grayson, 1998). It is mentioned that knowledge organizations have capacity to manage their scarce resources efficiently and proficiently and they may face the failure, if they do not (Laudon and Laudon, 2006). This is appropriate to quite some extent in Practical action. In fact as per interview data, the impact of knowledge capture and sharing on planning have significant impact on usage of resources. The knowledge of previous cost and time parameters on specific type of projects is archived and used in Practical action. The information/data/knowledge on the costs and benefits (Kankanhalli et al. 2005) can help to get certain direction on what quantity of resources can be invested on in a project. This way the knowledge has impacted the accuracy of the planning stage of the project in terms of costs and schedule. One of the previous quantitative research performed have proven to have positive relationship between the use of knowledge management and improvement in the management of the projects (Al-Zayaat, Al-Khaldi,Tadros and Al-Balqa,2009). Although these researches didn’t talk about the specific parameters of the project management and our research is focused on project planning and its components.
Another factor to consider is the project control which, is a part of the project planning process. Project planning process in Practical action and generally in most of the organizations includes defining the control limits which is not tricky task if there is no previous knowledge captured. The previous researchers in the project management have indicated that the normal belief about criticality of control needs to be supplemented by experimentation, novelty and practice of knowledge management and learning (Grant, 2006; Reich, 2007; Reich and Wee, 2006; Sauer and Reich, 2009; Sense, 2003). This also indicates the project control mechanism, should be improved by right knowledge capture and sharing. The management control processes generally are suitable for dealing with known difficulties (Ward, 1997). These known difficulties can be dealt with planning of the control limits. In project management control, parameters are identified during the planning procedure. Planning is a time bound phase of the project. The planning activity needs to perform quite a lot of decision making. The link of decision making and ‘knowledge’ was analyzed in previous researches. Unless there is a close to correct view or knowledge on the subject it’s difficult to take close to correct decision during the problem solving and at decision points in project planning.
The planning can be done faster as the ability of an organization to locate required knowledge for the activities can help improve the performance (Dooley, Corman, and McPhee, 2002). Faster planning also result into schedule and cost cut on some specific projects where the planning process is lengthy. The lessons learned during the project can reduce occurrences of repetition of mistakes in the same project or in the similar projects therefore, it can reduce the costs and rework time (Carrillo, Robinson, Al-Ghassani and Anumba, 2004), thus by impacting the budget and schedule planning of the project. The same is supported in the above interview data. Well-developed documentation of mistakes, errors and potential difficulties in the project helps to reduce project risks (Schindler and Eppler, 2003) in other words can help to reduce the possibility of budget and schedule slippage caused by risk materialization. Risks cannot possible get totally avoided by the knowledge capture and sharing however, the possibility of transferring the risks is enhanced, the probability and impact of the risk is reduced . This naturally has impact on cost and schedule of the project planning.
The planning process also has the contextual influences (Armstrong, 1982) in case of PA this influence is in terms of different setting of the projects. The findings of Turner and Cochrane (1993) have mentioned that ‘contextual variables’ are one of the reasons for variations in the project development. These parameters if captured during the first executions of the project in a particular context. This knowledge can be used for the further planning of the similar projects in the same context. However, the relationships between the parts had to be included into the equation (Goldstein, 1994). The similar examples are given in our interview data regarding how same projects differ in dissimilar contexts and how capturing this contextual knowledge improves the schedule and cost planning of the further projects. Usually unpredictable situations in the projects come from the lack of knowledge and the primary reason of planning is to cut on uncertainty in the project (Shenhar, 1993; Laufer et al., 1997). Therefore, uncertainty in the projects can be reduced by knowing the details, particulars can be achieved by ‘knowledge’.
4.5 Knowledge Capture
Generic tendency in the industry is to ‘capture’ the leanings /knowledge from projects is the post- project appraisal(Orange et al. 1999) however, some of the organizations such as Practical action captures the knowledge throughout during the execution of the projects and this is able to benefit the planning process of future projects. In practical action guidelines and checklists are available for planning of the new projects. These offer quiet a lot of help and are called process assets, these are generally present in high maturity organizations (P. Jalote,,2000). Practical action needs improvement in defining the processes to capture and share the knowledge as per the data however, a fully developed repository is available for the staff to rely on during the project planning phase. The knowledge repository is managed by the communication unit is referred by everybody across the organization. Technology is a medium of disseminating (Spiegler, 2003) and this is believed and implemented by Practical action too in preserving the knowledge. Information technology is considered as one of the important enabler for the knowledge management (cf: Maglitta, 1995). These repositories with the organization knowledge can be used to access the organization wide knowledge in any form, place or time (Davidow and Malone,1992) and same is implemented in Practical action. This has given Practical action edge over the other organizations in the same sector and hence the consultancy services of Practical action are well used by other organizations and individuals for the planning purpose. Practical actions’ geographically disburse team is using the knowledge capture and sharing to certain extent whenever required.
4.6 External and Tacit knowledge
Tacit knowledge consists of experiences of individuals (Spiegler, 2003). It is “knowing more than we can say” according to Polanyi (Polanyi,1966). In the context of Practical action, most of the external knowledge is tacit because it comes from the community, partners and other stakeholders which probably is not converted explicitly for the next usage. Therefore, tacit knowledge cannot be codified putting down in documents but there is certain part of tacit knowledge that can be made explicit by sharing (King, 2001). In case of Practical action Tacit knowledge component cannot be ignored as larger component of knowledge comes from the community and community has lesser means to make the knowledge explicit. Unless specifically tried it’s hard to convert the knowledge in the usable form because capturing and sharing techniques for the tacit knowledge is different to certain extent than explicit knowledge. Some of the questions asked to the candidates also include the aspect of tacit knowledge capture and sharing. Therefore, for this research, we are including the tacit knowledge to the extent where it can be made explicit by sharing or by any other method plus the explicit knowledge is considered to the larger extent. The tacit component which is converted to explicit is considered to be best transferred through the social interactions such as workshops and debates and discussions (Fernie et al., 2003). Practical action conducts various workshops, seminars and interactive forums to meet with community, to engage with stakeholders of the projects in order to transfer the tacit knowledge or convert it to explicit. This has also shown impact while planning the contexts during the project planning pahse.
4.7 Organization Culture and Rewards
Research has shown, some employees often resist sharing own knowledge (Ciborra and Patriota 1998) and such personality issues can be addressed by the organizational cultural or process change. Hence one of the key factors is to address is as mentioned by Patch et al. (2000: 113) in establishing the knowledge sharing is the apparent fairness of the psychological contract between staff and the employer. Employees need to ensure that the added efforts contributed are recognized with the fair attitude. As supported in our interview data and the knowledge generation is cultivated by transactions and interactions between contexts and individuals (Mezirow,1994). Business executives in the USA and Europe had an opinion that an unsuitable corporate culture as the biggest hindrance to knowledge sharing (Ruggles 1998). As mentioned by Malhotra (1997), knowledge is in the mind of the employees and it is one of the great resources and to extract or capture this knowledge is not an easy task. Tremlett and Parik (1995) observed that most of the staff has a ‘passive’ approach towards learning and generally show interest in further learning only when encouraged by higher management. This encouragement could be in any form either monitory or psychological or in terms of added perks. To ensure this, organization culture and organization processes along with the senior management support is essential. The organization culture and knowledge capture and sharing have a strong link (Gupta and Govindarajan, 2000; Gummer, 1998). Ownership of the knowledge is one factor that can create tensions as it may have impact on power, control and reward hence organization culture and senior management support are important factors which, may impact the relationship between the knowledge capture and planning. As per the interview data there needs certain changes in terms of organizational processes to capture and share the knowledge effectively. Offering rewards to support such changes was suggested to be one of the keys. Fundamental organization alterations are not possible without the support of the organization’s values and organizational norms (Kerr, Slocum, 1987). The values/norms should be in line with the reward systems. What is preached by organization should be reflected on the papers, formally with the tangible benefits to the employees. Practical action is also contemplating the rewards for knowledge capture and sharing process to be more effective during the project lifecycle of Practical action according to a senior officer. Some of the factors found during selective coding were further analyzed in this section. The knowledge capture and sharing and its impact on project planning has been found positive through the literature review as discussed above and through the interview data analysis. The parameters or factors affecting Knowledge capture and sharing, in the context of Practical action, on project planning are discussed in the data analysis phase along with the analysis of the relationship between knowledge capture and sharing on project planning.
5. DATA AND METHODS
The research has used grounded theory of the qualitative research for the topic. Grounded theory is ‘the discovery of theory from data’ (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). The theory is derived from the data analysis before any prior hypothesis. The research subject is to some extend inappropriate for quantitative research as the parameters could be multiple to verify and there seems less research already done on the similar lines which, can give guidelines to define the quantitative measures of the outcome. Therefore, qualitative approach was finalized for this subject using grounded theory. Grounded theory is been used extensively in management, sociology and health care research (Mullen 1975; Glaser and Strauss 1967; Bigus 1974).
In grounded theory both the data collection and analysis goes hand in hand. Grounded theory which is one of the qualitative methods of research is used to find a theory that is grounded in data by systematically analyzing the data collected. Grounded theory as per Martin and Turner is “an inductive, theory discovery methodology that allows the researcher to develop a theoretical account of the general features of a topic while simultaneously grounding the account in empirical observations or data” (Martin and Turner 1986,p.45). Quantitative research methods are not appropriate for this research subject because, the research is trying to find an impression, experience or understanding of the candidate regarding the impact of knowledge capture and sharing on project planning. If we had designed a static questionnaire, we would have missed on the fullness of the experiences and background in which candidate is elaborating the phenomenon. In this case qualitative research can also allow us to unfold the natural trends in the answers of the impact of knowledge capture and sharing without deliberately imposing categories of answers. Grounded theory is considered an effective research method for the subjects which have relatively less research done before and in a sense there is a paucity of knowledge in the subject area (McCann and Clark, 2003a; Payne, 2007). This research subject also falls under the similar category as there is quite a lot of research done in knowledge management however, the relationship between the Knowledge capture and sharing with projects planning seems to have received no notice. The research subject is to some extend inappropriate for quantitative research as the parameters are difficult to categorize and measure. According to author qualitative research method, grounded theory will allow the researcher to find the possible unbiased patterns and relations between the parameters, possible objective findings, purely on the basis of the interviews, that is primary data and secondary data collected such as documents, website of the organization, annual report or any other archival sources from Practical action. Another reason to use grounded theory is, the orientation of grounded theory is more for actions and the processes (Strauss and Corbin 1990). The intension of this research is also towards the action oriented outcome in the stream of knowledge management for Practical action. As it can be seen previous studies have shown contradictions in terms of theoretical presence and practical implementation of knowledge management (for this research knowledge capture and sharing ). Grounded theory is said to address the studies where there are ‘contradiction and ambiguities’ (Strauss and Corbin 1990). Grounded theory also allows an open access to as many categories, parameters involved instead presetting the parameters and measures. This approach will give the wider scope to analyze the facts in the context of Practical Action.
The ‘literature review’ in grounded theory has been a subject of debate as Glaser and Strauss (1967) were against substantial literature review during initial stages of the research. Whereas for many, there was a question of when and how much literature review should be done (Cutcliffe, 2000). It was emphasized that the grounded theory came in existence, “to achieve a practical middle ground between a theory-laden view of the world and an unfettered empiricism” (Suddaby 2006, p. 635). In authors view, a certain amount of literature review is required and must to understand the current stance of the theories on the subject however, the data analysis should be performed without bias. The reflectivity forms a crucial part of the research process (Heath, 2006) itself which, cannot be avoided. As mentioned “continuously aware of the possibility that you are being influenced by pre-existing conceptualizations of your subject” (Suddaby 2006, p. 635), may be an effective way of minimizing the possibility of taking over and ensuring nothing is forced on the data. This research has taken this point seriously throughout the data analysis phase to have careful implementation of grounded theory. Although author performed selected literature review at the start of the research however, detail interlinks between theory and the findings are explained only after the data analysis was performed. The initial step of the grounded theory mechanism included in-depth interviews of the candidates chosen as per the theoretical sampling method where the interview questions and candidates are decided on the responses in the interactive session till the saturation of questions in the subject area is reached (Goulding 2000). Diverse group of employees were selected for the interviews that can lead to the better understanding of the phenomenon (Strauss and Corbin, 1998). The candidates were selected from different departments.
Interview questions had some follow up questions to get elaborate views of the candidates. The coding procedure was started with the transcripts. It included constant comparisons to find the themes and categories from the data collected in the form of transcripts, documents and repository sources. The author (applying theoretical sensitivity) will collect the data and analyze it. Prior knowledge and existing literature will also be considered to identify the categories and themes. Literature is also used constantly to compare the categories emerging from the primary and secondary data collected (Glaser, 1992). From the codes listed during the research a theory was emerged as there were some relationships found between the codes. Once the emergent categories were found then it were interlinked or checked to find if there is a fit between previous studies elaborated in research review as per Strauss and Corbin (1990). To avoid ‘social desirability bias’ (Berger and Kanetkar, 1995) while interviewing, questions were asked in such a way so that embracement is avoided. It was carefully handled that candidates do not give the answers which, were socially accepted or the answers which, interviewer might be looking for. Candidates were made comfortable and confidentiality aspect was addressed to ensure the candidate is comfortable sharing his/her original thoughts without any bias. To ensure theoretical sampling the author has characterized behavior of individuals not the individuals themselves (Glaser 1978). That means, the personal characteristics and attitudes are ignored, the data abstracted from the interviews was analyzed.
The staff in Kenya practical action is around 75. Some of the staff members are always in the field and not accessible because of the poor connectivity issues. Considering the depth of the interview and the count of questions 10 in-depth interviews were decided. The interviews were conducted in Practical action (Nairobi) in a secluded discussion room. Interviews went on for around 40 to 50 minutes. All the interviews were conducted in English and recorded using a recorder with the previous consent taken from the interviewees. There were around 20 (depending on the background of the candidate) open ended questions asked to all the candidates. However, the external validity (Wagner, 1997) of the research is low because only Kenya staff was interviewed therefore, the conclusions can be drawn for Practical Action Kenya branch more strongly than the entire Practical action as an organization. As per the grounded theory first open coding was performed. Then the axial coding was applied which, includes relating the codes to each other, forming connections. This also considers studying the causal conditions, phenomenon ( the central idea) , strategies, actions, interactions, consequences and finally the exceptions will be learned. Further found codes were added till the saturation was reached. Selective coding was applied which, included a refinement process to strengthen the theory emerging from the codes and themes. Strauss and Corbin (1990) approach of grounded theory is used by the research by going through the three stages of open, axial and selective coding. Further coding was terminated when saturation point was arrived. This occurs when further data does not, “yield surprises in the form of challenges to the emerging coding system” (Finch, 2002). Theory was emerged from this set of codes.