This is a summary of Knowledge management and organizational culture: a theoretical integrative journal by Rajnish Kumar Rai, a police officer who at the time was based at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad India. For this research, he used a conceptual method by comparing previous findings and thoughts.
At first, the author underlines the importance of knowledge in today’s rapid changing world and how most of the experts agree on the continuous improvement of knowledge as one of the most critical factor for an organization to survive, and knowledge management takes a large part in it. Furthermore, recognizing and understanding the linkage between the knowledge creation and the organization values are what the organizations should be doing first before applying the knowledge management in the organization. A mismanagement of knowledge creation will lead the organization not into an innovation but confusion. Unfortunately, this important part, the knowledge creation, does not have a framework for an effective and systematical approach to be used in different type of organizations.
There are a lot of theories that support this idea but they do not have a practical approach of how to be implemented. Subsequently, the author acknowledges that many researches supported the theory that a successful knowledge management process is very essential to an organization. For instance, Davenport and Prusak stated that knowledge management is also implanted in organization values like routine (p.5) while Malhotra (1997) implied that what is really matter in an organization is what is in the people head, their knowledge. These are two reasons that trigger the author to do his own research to create the linkage between organization value and knowledge creation process. He wants to create a framework that can be used in a different type of organization to optimize the knowledge creation process.
Knowledge management and organizational culture: a theoretical integrative framework is a journal that is aiming to create a linkage between the knowledge creation process and organization culture. Both of them are represented by SECI process and competing value framework, respectively. The author feels that even though there are many researches for this topic but none of them have a practical approach to an organization. The previous journals mainly focused on the effects of the organization culture to the knowledge management process. There are few researches about the linkage. However, they only cover several aspects of the organizational culture and its knowledge management. The author of this journal wants to create a clear and systematical framework that can portray the linkage between the knowledge management process and organizational values blatantly, so it can be used by the organization leaders. In order to achieve that, the author digs two elements of SECI process deeply, the “ba” and the knowledge assets, then modified the competing value framework with ethical and trusting dimension. He divides this research into six sections; the first two are about the explanation of what knowledge management process and organization culture are, then the linkage between them, the practical approaches, limitation of the research and finally the conclusion.
To create the linkage, the author breaks down the knowledge creation process and organizational values then connect the similar characteristics in them. For this journal, the author uses one of the most famous knowledge creation processes, the SECI -Socialization, Externalization, Combination and Internalization-process. However, before further explanation the author wants to make a point that the knowledge creation process is the only way to create knowledge and SECI is only the tool for it. In this journal, the author explains the SECI process thoroughly. First, he explains that SECI process itself is divided into two categories the exploration processes which consist of the socialization and externalization process because they have tacit knowledge as their inputs and the exploitation processes which has the combination and the internalization process because both of them use explicit knowledge as their inputs. Then, he explains the two elements of SECI process which is “ba” and knowledge assets, and how they fit with SECI process. Ba in this context is translated into when and where the knowledge creation process is taking place precisely, not a place literally-consider it origins from Japanese philosopher who translated this word to a place.
Interaction plays the largest part in ba. Ba divides interaction into two dimensions, one talking about the number of people involved and the other about the process itself. On the other hand, interaction splits ba into four categories. First is the originating ba, the place where the knowledge first comes up, the ba that is fitted with the socialization context. This process can be taking place anywhere by chance. Second is the dialoguing ba, the place where the knowledge is shared and converted into practical language. The ba that is suitable for externalization process. It will need a forum to accommodate this process such as study groups or panel discussion. Third is systemizing ba, the place where the knowledge is translated into more sophisticated tools like data bank through documentation or recording. The ba that is the right fit for combination process that is most likely taking place inside the organization. Lastly, the exercising ba that is suitable with the internalization process because this is the place where people get their knowledge through manuals or simulations. After explaining ba the author moves to knowledge assets and what it is role. Like ba, as one of SECI elements knowledge assets also have their own characteristics. It is divided into four categories based on how they perceive. The first one, the experiential knowledge assets has a linear relationship with the socialization process because it is gained by sharing on-hand experiences.
The conceptual knowledge assets that shares similar principle with externalization process because it is the knowledge that is encoded through images, symbols and language from its tacit form. Then the systemic knowledge assets that correspond well with combination process, because it is communicated through a systematic structured process such as manuals, patents and trademarks. The last one is the routine knowledge assets that have similar characteristics with combination process, because it is the company practical knowledge like day to day business routine and know-how. After giving a clear explanation about the two elements of SECI process, the author starts to explain the role of culture in this journal. First, he explained that culture is too broad for a term and has been used differently in a lot of different areas. Specifically, there are no general theories of culture. That is why the author chooses to use the competing value framework by Cameron and Quinn (1999) to build a profile of organization culture. The competing value framework has four quadrants which is the human relations model or clan culture, the open system model or adhocracy culture, the rational goal or market culture and the internal process model or hierarchy culture.
The clan culture takes bonding and sense of belonging as its most important aspect in the organization, usually organizations with a long history and stable membership, while the market culture emphasizes on the competitive drive of the organization, basically the drive to generate more profits by leading the market competition, a complete opposite of the clan culture. On the other hand, the adhocracy culture strongly supports a breakthrough in the company through innovation and creativity while the hierarchy culture tied their members with rules and procedures. From the author point of view, realistically speaking, an organization always has more than one criterion or even has all four of them, and a successful organization is the organization that can balance all this criteria.
He also states that most of the organizations sacrifice the values of some culture to optimizing the others-most of them like to optimize the market and hierarchy culture. The author makes note that even though the sacrifice occurred because of the contrasting values between the culture, it will slowly hurt the company in the long run. Analyzing the competing value framework is the second step of creating the linkage between the knowledge management creation and the organization value. However, the author also modifies the competing value framework by adding the ethical and trust culture, because he believes that many people does not want to share their knowledge because of personal benefits and competitive preventive measure. That is why ethical and trusts dimension plays a significant role in this process.
After understanding the knowledge management process and modifying the organization culture dimensions, the author starts to create a line between them. He describes that these two substances have conceptual similarities, both of them portray the circumstances inside the organization and how it affects the external environment. The relationship is clearly shown in the table below.
The table shows the match characteristics of SECI process with the organizational culture and compares it with the other culture. It shows that the clan culture has the best characteristics for socialization process. The people in the organization are encouraged to share their knowledge and expertise while it’s opposite the market culture is a perfect match for the combination process. In my opinion, the drive in the market culture itself can put more trigger for the people to do such complicated tasks like conversing a simple explicit knowledge to a methodical one then keep it from themselves. Then, the readers can also see that the adhocracy culture that shares its characteristics with externalization process through creativity and innovation is an opposite of the hierarchal culture. By understanding this framework, organization leaders can clearly identify the real problem in applying knowledge management in their organizations. Furthermore, it will provide an understanding of the organization real characteristics in finding their best knowledge management approach.
However, like many other journals this journal also has its flaws. One of them is the used of SECI process when there is a researcher argue that it ignores the role of procedural criteria in corporate knowledge. It also does not have a full practical approach like how the SECI process really converse knowledge to a new one is hard to explain. The author admits that by overcoming the weakness of SECI process, he can provide a very strong foundation to identify the appropriate methods that the organization leaders could use to have an effective knowledge management process in their organizations. However, the author reasoned that he uses SECI method to simplify the process. Furthermore, he also wants to encourage other researchers to have a direct observation in an organization. All in all, in this journal the author succeeds in creating a visible linkage between knowledge management process and organization culture.
After reading and summarizing this journal, I come to a conclusion that this journal really explains the knowledge management process and organization culture thoroughly. The author stripped all the elements of these two substances. However, he does not give many practical approaches regarding the result of the research. The author puts more thoughts in finding the right theories to support him which can be seen by many quotes and references inside this journal rather than finds a practical example to support his argument. There are examples of course; however, they should be more to be understandable or practical so readers can relate to them. The examples are understandable for the people who know about knowledge management process but are confusing for readers who are not familiar with it. It is a disappointment because the main purpose of this journal, the linkage, only has a brief explanation, when the aspects in it have a thorough explanation. In a nutshell, this is a very informative but lack of practical approach research. It is more theoretical than practical which is actually the aim of this research, a practical approach of knowledge management process in an organization.